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aardvark1
01-16-2005, 06:58 PM
I'm new to this forum and am about to be new to running a lawn care business. Any advice would be great. Advice on how to do it right and advice on what doesn't work. Best way to advertise, quickest way to lose a customer, etc. I will be doing this with a partner (He'll be aardvark2 in this forum) and we want to start off right. We live in one of the fastest growing areas in the United States per capita, so new people moving in all the time. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time and I look forward to being a member of this forum.

Likestomow
01-16-2005, 07:13 PM
…although it’s been said
many times,
many ways… Merry…

No wait, I mean find the Search Button and wear it out.

There is a literal wealth of information waiting here for you on this forum. I suggest that as you do your searching and find things that interest you, copy and paste them into a Word document for quick retrieval in the coming days.

DennisF
01-16-2005, 09:05 PM
Quality service is above all number one. If your work is top notch, word will get around. The same is true if your quality is poor. You'll find that word of mouth advertising will build (or kill) your business faster than any other type of advertising you can do.

Buy the best equipment that you can afford. Avoid cheap homeowner equipment at all costs. These tools will not take the punishment of commercial use and will only cost you more money when you have to replace them with commercial grade stuff. High quality tools will make you more reliable, more efficient and produce more revenue per dollar invested than any cheap homeowner grade equipment.

Don't try to grow the business too rapidly. Growing a business to quickly is the second biggest reason for early business failures. Poor business management skills is number one. Be patient. If your work is top drawer... the customer will find you and not the other way around.

Price your service competitively, but don't under-price just to get new business. You'll regret it when you wind up with every cheapskate PITA customer that other LCO's don't want.

Last but not least...get a license and insurance. In other words...be a professional.

Pecker
01-16-2005, 09:10 PM
First of all, be dependable. You will not get word-of-mouth business if you're not. Don't lowball just to get business (not even if you are doing it just to get a few accounts to start with). Do quality work (and if you miss something, do go tothe trouble to get your equipment al back out again and finish the job right). If you can't afford professional equipment, stick with a homeowner 21" until you can. . .its the only mower that will do commercial quality mowing at a residential price. . .and yes, it is slow! Its fine to use homeowner 2-strokes but as you wear them out and replace them, you MUST replace them with professional equipment!

Other than that, there's not much more I can say besides take care of your body out there in the elements.

PMLAWN
01-16-2005, 09:32 PM
Any body can cut grass. Alot of people can cut it well. Few people can make it art. Only a small percentage can run a profitable business, be a salesman, keep track of all their numbers, and have very happy customers. That small percentage are the ones that make a real living off this business.
Study business- sales- marketing- finance and than go out and practice your art.
Look at the end result first, than figure all the steps to get there. Do all those steps and you will get the result.

At this point I will cop out and tell you to do the search because everything that you need to know is out there. Study a lot and when you have 1 question about 1 point ask that question. You will get a better response than asking blanket questions.

Use words like sales-selling-profit-bidding-measure-production-costs-time-mowers-trimmers-edgers.
Have fun and good luck---Learning to run the widget business is more important than the widget!

rclay11541
01-16-2005, 09:51 PM
*Flyers and door to door.
*Lighting fast customer service in terms of returning phone calls.
*Show you really care about each customer. Many will ask if you can do little things for them, Such as making sure a gate is closed when you leave etc.. do it! They will remember you for it good or bad.
*Find the best mower you can afford then go one better (No homeowner pice of crap nomatter what anybody tells you)
*Buy a big trailer you will outgrow it fast AT least a 6x12
*Be prepared to work like a dog
*Be prepared to be poor your fist year and maybe a few more
*Stay on top of your lawns (dont let them fall behind..I personaly look for lawns that are long along my route if i see one that is i stop and see if the home owner wants to switch to me)

the scaper
01-16-2005, 10:04 PM
Honesty, integrity, quality, speed , prayer.

fairwayCuts
01-17-2005, 01:13 AM
research your equipmet! Make sure you buy the mower that is going to best fit your needs. When I started I didn't know a whole lot about them and kinda bought one without thinking it through real well. Allways commercial equipmet.

Like someone said before, wear out the search button. There is so much information on here and everyone is so helpfull. I have learned more on this site from many members than I ever could have from reading books or trying to wing it. Thats not to say though you shouldn't try and gain all the knowledge you can from any source. I am constantly at the library looking for new books!

rickman
01-17-2005, 03:39 PM
good advice :cool2:

aardvark1
01-17-2005, 07:36 PM
I appreciate all the feedback, it was all helpful. As far as the trailer comment, I just purchased a 7' X 20' dual axle trailer, rear gate, side gate, front toolbox, 4 foot high mesh siding all the way around, upgraded to the 5200 lb. axles and 2 5/8" bulldog hitch. Looking from what the other folks on this site have, I seem to have purchased a trailer that will do for now as I start this up. I have a 1995 Ford F350 4X4 Crew Cab diesel truck with propane injection system, partner has a 2002 GMC 2500HD 4X4 extend cab with the little 6.0L gas engine, I'm concerned about his ability to pull this trailer if we fill it up to 10,000 pounds, but I guess it will do for now :)

Anyone have preferences on 0TR mowers? We have been looking at grasshopper brand mowers and would probably like to go with the diesel if we can find one used and reasonable priced. Any input on other brands would be appreciated! Thanks.

newbomb
01-17-2005, 10:39 PM
Starting with a diesel rider seems like overkill. I hope it works out. Gas engine look at Scag Turf Tiger and Exmark Lazer. The only diesel mower I've heard much about is Kubota. I have heard all good things about them. -Paul

PMLAWN
01-29-2005, 07:49 AM
I know this thread is old now but I came back to check and I see you have a Trailer. And a TRAILER it is. you are worried about pulling 10,000#, What are you going to pull. It's great to have a lot of stuff on a trailer but if there are only 2 of you how much can you use.
It sounds like you are falling into the trap that a lot of guys here are in. Trucks that can pull a house, Mowers to cut any property, "WE will cut grass, trim hedges, plant seasonal plants, aeration,(so far so good) paint fences-wash cars-walk dogs -change baby's ******". And we can put it all on the trailer at once. We know that we can not turn around or park in front of any houses but we can do it all.
A lot of guys say get the biggest you can get. I feel that keeping you overhead low and you rigs smaller so you can move around easy is better.
Trailers are cheap, If you need another go buy it. But why start out so big.
Time is the only thing you sell. So any wasted time costs you money. Wasted by driving a big rig and trying to park it. Wasted by having to dig through a ton of stuff to get to the thing you need. If you want to expand to other areas in landscape you can get other trailers or trucks than. Our most profitable rig is a small truck with a 5x12 trailer with a 36" and 2 21" mowers. (I am looking at moving up to a Sprinter van with flat bed and get away from a trailer) Our biggest mowing trailer is an enclosed 8 x 14 that will hold a 36' and a 48" up front side x side and a Z behind and even a 21" sideways across the back. That rig only gets moved a few times a day as it does most of the bigger properties. On some it stays parked all day.
Stay lean and mean. buy the min. that you need.
So many people get caught up on the equipment. That stuff is so cheap.
Prices are appox. new.
Truck 1/2ton 6 cyl---$19.000
trailer 6 x 12-------- $1,000
Mowers (21"-21"-36") $5,500
Trimmers and such $1,000


So for less than $27,000 you got a rig that is all new and can bring in $1000.00 a day In a month and a half it has already made it's cost.( yes I know that there is labor and overhead just making a point)
Going used can even get it for less. And I am already cutting grass while someone with a 45'+ rig is still looking to find a place to park.
If you need to plow (AR???) you can use the big trucks for that.
Just trying to help you see different ways of working. Keep cost low and production high.

MJhnson Lawn
02-15-2005, 06:22 PM
I know this thread is old now but I came back to check and I see you have a Trailer. And a TRAILER it is. you are worried about pulling 10,000#, What are you going to pull. It's great to have a lot of stuff on a trailer but if there are only 2 of you how much can you use.
It sounds like you are falling into the trap that a lot of guys here are in. Trucks that can pull a house, Mowers to cut any property, "WE will cut grass, trim hedges, plant seasonal plants, aeration,(so far so good) paint fences-wash cars-walk dogs -change baby's ******". And we can put it all on the trailer at once. We know that we can not turn around or park in front of any houses but we can do it all.
A lot of guys say get the biggest you can get. I feel that keeping you overhead low and you rigs smaller so you can move around easy is better.
Trailers are cheap, If you need another go buy it. But why start out so big.
Time is the only thing you sell. So any wasted time costs you money. Wasted by driving a big rig and trying to park it. Wasted by having to dig through a ton of stuff to get to the thing you need. If you want to expand to other areas in landscape you can get other trailers or trucks than. Our most profitable rig is a small truck with a 5x12 trailer with a 36" and 2 21" mowers. (I am looking at moving up to a Sprinter van with flat bed and get away from a trailer) Our biggest mowing trailer is an enclosed 8 x 14 that will hold a 36' and a 48" up front side x side and a Z behind and even a 21" sideways across the back. That rig only gets moved a few times a day as it does most of the bigger properties. On some it stays parked all day.
Stay lean and mean. buy the min. that you need.
So many people get caught up on the equipment. That stuff is so cheap.
Prices are appox. new.
Truck 1/2ton 6 cyl---$19.000
trailer 6 x 12-------- $1,000
Mowers (21"-21"-36") $5,500
Trimmers and such $1,000


So for less than $27,000 you got a rig that is all new and can bring in $1000.00 a day In a month and a half it has already made it's cost.( yes I know that there is labor and overhead just making a point)
Going used can even get it for less. And I am already cutting grass while someone with a 45'+ rig is still looking to find a place to park.
If you need to plow (AR???) you can use the big trucks for that.
Just trying to help you see different ways of working. Keep cost low and production high. Excellent ideas coming from
a LCO Vet .

Eho
02-16-2005, 07:58 PM
Hey, I've been mowing for five years, but not ever really seriously until now. I'm a 19 year old college student working my way through college with lawncare. Best advice I could give to you is:
1. Dont just leave flyers....I go door to door and introduce myself to people. If ppl see that you are a friendly person, they are more likely to call you. My success rate is a lot higher when I talk to them as opposed to when I just leave a flyer( ppl often just throw them away)
2. Do a good job!!!! The majority of my work comes from current customers who like the job I do.
3. Be friendly. I talk to my customers on a regular basis and know what's going on with them, and I tell them about my life. Having a great relationship with them can go a long way.
4. Be prompt.....If a customer calls you, return their call ASAP, make them know they are important.
5. Be organized....keep good tract of who has paid you.
6. Buy nice COMMERCIAL GRADE equipment. Believe me, in the long run it is cheaper to spend the extra money up front. It will last longer, do a better job. Also, I use that as a selling point" i have top of the line equipment"

These tips should get u started, let me know how its going.