Originally Posted by perdonlandscaping
-I am a college kid who started my business two years ago under the table with one customer, no insurance, no trailer, and little experience
-its going to take a lot of time to grow your customer base
Becoming a legitimate business and getting insurance were the two things that I wanted to get before I upgraded all of my equipment or anything, its a great feeling and it takes away the fear of having to pay hefty fines to the state or medical bills out of pocket, so I suggest saving up for those two things by the second year of business at the latest. I am now currently looking to buy a brand-new commercial mower if i reach my customer goal for this upcoming season and I am studying for my fertilizer license which i suggest getting once you become legitimate because those fines are stiff as well.
-DO NOT LOW BALL A BID TO GET THE JOB EITHER.
-So basically after that very long answer, do as much research, reading, googling, and youtubing as you can to learn about lawn care, set your priorities in terms of what you are going to invest in first after you get your business started, don't low ball, and remember everything will take you longer then you think. Oh and don't quit when it gets tough, I wanted to quit very often but I didn't and I'm doing pretty well now. I hope this helps and good luck
Hah, sounds like you were in the same boat as I am in now! Sounds like alot of good advice, thanks for the help! I agree with starting out with a smaller customer base, I do not have a number but the 15-20 you suggested sounds like a realistic goal I would like to set for myself. I understand and dont expect to have a boat-load of customers right off the bat, but that the same time I am not going to sell myself short. Gotta have positive outlooks!
Also, when you say lowball, you mean dont skimp out and mow a lawn for cheaper than I should, right? This is something that I think will definitely come with experience. I don't know pricing of lawns, for now I think I will try to judge a lawn based on time taken to mow based off how it looks, taking hilly terrain and whatnot into account as well.
I also, agree that becoming "legal" is very important as well, and I will plan on having that all set next season. I have gotten an earful from various members on this site, and ill definitely put that into effect next year.
Originally Posted by Set Apart Lawn Care
After reading your responses, I think you have a good outlook and it seems like some good common sense about starting. I guess a lot of guys on here started out completely legit, but I didnt/couldnt and I dont know many around here who did, and thats not just lawn care.
I didnt try to lowball, I was lowballing because I didnt understand the cost of running a legit business. So between driving all over town and not making much money I really chalk that entire summer up to "learning it the hard way" and got a job waiting tables all winter since I couldnt afford a back pack blower or truck loader. So here are some lessons I've learned that I swear will make this work for you.
1. Start building credit
I know you want an all cash business, we all do, and if you can stay that way thats great. But you might find when you want an $8,000 zero turn, and you have an above 700 credit score so you can get almost no interest for 2-4years, you may want to turn around and put that money into advertising. That is how you grow. Credit is a game that has to be played in life, or atleast it can be greatly beneficial to play. That is a seperate conversation that im not the best to give.
I like door hangers and every door direct mail. Door hangers are my favorite, they are the most cost effective, and yield the best results.
The main reason I like door hangers is it allows you to market to a concentrated area. The smaller that area the better. I have one subdivision with 21 yards, in only 3 years. Thats my best one, but we make some serious cash on the day we do that one. Driving time is huge, especially when you have employees. You have to drive out and bid, drive out if there is a problem, drive out for regular service. Having yards in a smaller area makes your business much more manageable. Plus in terms of branding, the people in that area see your truck more often because you around there so much, which further increases your chances of getting them. It is a snowball effect.
You said you are starting out, which means you may not know how to bid. I didnt. I thought, man I cut this $40 yard in an hour, my last job I only made $16 an hour so I'm rockin. I wasnt that dumb, I knew I had overhead, but I really underestimated. At what I charged I would never be able to grow. No newer trucks, no newer or bigger mowers, no insurances.... no future. You may be starting small with paid for equipment and living at home.
However if you want to succeed you need to look at 5 years down the road.
My point, if you are really trying to make a go at this, bid as if you are the company you want to have in 5 years so that you can be that company in 5 years. That takes some thinking. You need to know what kind of lifestyle you want to have, how much money you'd need to make, and what type of business it would take to do that. I realize you may not know all those things yet or have the experience in this field to determine them. Atleast have them in your mind. If 5 years out is to far then think in 2 years.
Understanding how much time things will take and how much you need to make for your time to live the lifestyle you want are invaluable in this business.
Good luck, hope to see you on here in years to come!
Thanks for understanding where I come from about not being legit off the bat. Like I said, its something I would like to work towards but cant afford at the time. Anyway, I think you gave me some great advice, I will definitely keep this stuff in mind.
Lowballing- In regards to lowballing, like you mentioned I dont know what I should be charging. I think this might be something that I need to learn as time goes on as far as what to charge people. I am going to try to value my time at around $30 an hour for now I suppose... If a lawn takes me a hour to do, Ill charge $30 minimum. Honestly I don't know if this number is too high or too low though but its a start.
Start Building Credit- Just wondering if you mean this in direct relation to running this business, or through other things. Having good credit sounds like it really would be beneficial for financing new equipment and stuff, I didn't really think of this before. Good idea.
Advertising-I agree completely about door hangers, they seem to be the best bet for now. I need to get some made up soon though, need to figure out what I want to advertise on them like what services I want to offer. I also think business cards would be convenient as a secondary form of advertisement in spontaneous advertising situations.
"However if you want to succeed you need to look at 5 years down the road."
This quote really stood out to me. It sounds very valuable and looks like a great idea in terms of forming a direction with the business. I will keep this in mind definitely.
Originally Posted by CreativeLawncareSolutions
2 mil is a lot. We needed that high of coverage to get some commercial accounts. You won't need that much for residential accounts.
In 10 years I've never made an insurance claim.
Ok, thanks for answering. Like I stated before I plan on getting all the legal stuff set after this year. If you can go 10 years (working with a crew I assume?) without a claim, I think I can make it 1 year on my own without running into trouble. I realize the risk. But really, thank you for the input I really appreciate it.
On a side note, I posted a couple threads, one seeking advise on Spring Cleanups
), and the other seeking advise on Selecting a Trailer
)... If anyone would like to, I really could use some input on both of the subjects!