Register free!
Search
 
     

The Green Industry's Resource Center


Click for Weather
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-02-2013, 10:17 AM
Jlin428's Avatar
Jlin428 Jlin428 is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Mystic, CT
Posts: 10
Starting up my first business!

Hi everyone! I'll start off by introducing myself, it's my first post on these forums! My name is Jake, I am a college student from Connecticut. I am starting up my own Lawn Care business this summer and I'm looking for all the advise and tips I can get!

To be completely honest, I have little knowledge of how to go about starting up and running business, but it is something that I am determined to learn despite however much work it will take. I have customer service experience having working in a restaurant for 5 years, and I have experience mowing lawns in the past but I'm sure its nothing compared to most of the people here on this forum lol. I want to learn all that I can from you guys, and hopefully I can return the favor.

I'm most concerned about how I should go about the start up of it and how to maintain and manage the business, while still trying to make it grow. I will start off by giving a brief outline of my plan, and then what I am planning on doing (as of now) to make it happen. ANY advise on what I should/shouldn't do, alternative ways to do things, feedback on my idea's (positive or negative), ect. will be greatly appreciated! Here it goes!



Plans/Goals:
-I want to make money, but at the same time provide a great service to people. I take pride in my work and do not like screwing people over, for lack of a better term. There's more to life than solely money simply put.

-I will be trying to get as much business as possible. Right now it is a one-man operation, but hopefully I can get enough clients to want/need to hire people.

-I don't have an exact number, but I will have somewhere between $700-$2,000 for business start up (possibly more but doubtful)

-I am pretty much starting from scratch and have no equipment or clients

-As of now, I plan on advertising basic lawn care services (mowing, weedwacking, weeding, hedge trimming, ect). I am open to learn all I can and am willing to do side-jobs related to this stuff, but don't want to advertise too many special services that I am not experienced in yet.

-I will be doing mostly residential business.

-Depending on how much business I get, I plan on running it as a cash-based
kinda business. I am not planning on purchasing liability insurance or anything like that, just my automobile insurance. Also, as far as taxes/legal stuff goes I would rather just do it under the table for now. If I get a lot of business, this stuff may change, especially if I need to start hiring people.

-I would like to get customers throughout not only my town, but a couple neighboring towns as well. I want as much business as I can get.


Equipment:
-Currently I drive a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon. Ideally I would like to have own a truck for the business, but that is going to have to wait due a couple of reasons (mostly financial). I plan on purchasing a utility trailer to haul everything around with and attaching it to my car for now.

-My dad is going to give me a used push mower of his for free. I do not know any of the details on the make or model, but I will post it later for opinions. I would like to purchase a new one, but I need to figure out my money situation for startup.

-I was thinking about a riding mower, but I honestly will have nowhere near enough money to purchase one until next year.

-I plan on purchasing a weed-wacker, gas cans, an edger(?), mower blades and sharpener, gloves, oil for the mower (im really not sure what I will need... suggestions?)


Advertising/Promotion (I am looking for help here especially!):
-I plan on purchasing fliers and business cards and dropping them off at houses and other places like grocery stores. I need to design these still and am looking for some tips on how to do so please!

-I would like to do at least some door-to-door style promotion to try to get clients. In my experience, dealing with someone in person has many benefits as well as a personal touch that will help me win over some customers.

-I am thinking about purchasing a couple of campaign-style lawn signs for my house and friends lawns for advertisement (possibly in customers lawns in exchange for some type of discount incentive. Thoughts?)

-I would like to purchase either a magnet-decal or some type of car topper for my car for advertisement/professionalism.

-I am thinking about putting some ads in local newspapers, as well as on the internet.


Other questions:
-What are the "basic/standard" lawn care services?
As of now I have mowing, weedwacking, weeding, edging?, and hedge trimming. Looking for more things that I can realistically advertise (tree removal for example, is something I am interested in learning and am willing to take do as a side job type of thing but I'm not experienced enough to want to specifically advertise it yet).

-When should I begin my advertising/promotional period and when should I end it? Also, when should I begin mowing the lawns?

-How/what should I charge per lawn? Should I simply eye-out the lawn when I meet the customer?

-Business name? Im thinking about keeping it simple with "Jake's Lawn Care"... thoughts?

-Any other information/advise that can be offered will be GREATLY appreciated!




I apologize for the long read, but I didn't know of any other way to ask all those questions! Haha, anyway thanks for any and all input, positive or negative! Hopefully I can answer some of your guy's questions and offer my advise on anything you'd like to know!
Thanks again, cheers!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-02-2013, 10:49 AM
hi_speedreed hi_speedreed is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 399
Since you have no equipment you should do some research into costs. I think you will be surprised at low little $700 is. I see 4x8 and 5x8 utility trailers on craigslist from 400-700. You can make do with residential equipment but it is not built to take the punishment of day in day out work that commercial machines are built for.

21" mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer and blower are the minimum for what you have described you are looking at ~900 for good quality homeowner stuff, if you buy commercial you could be looking at $2200+
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 02-02-2013, 03:42 PM
Jlin428's Avatar
Jlin428 Jlin428 is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Mystic, CT
Posts: 10
First off, thank you for your input! I appreciate the realism.
Unfortunently, I relieze how little amount of startup money I have but it's all I got for now, hopefully I can upgrade equipment along the way.

When you say homeowner vs. commercial machines I'm just wondering what defines the differences? I understand what both terms mean, but does Home Depot for example sell both homeowner and commercial units? How would I know? Is there a technical difference between the two?

Also, I did a google search for string trimmer. I have heard of it being called a "weed-wacker" before, just want to make sure these are the same tools. Also by blower, I assume you mean leaf blower right?

Yeah hopefully I can snag a trailer for relatively cheap, that is going to eat a large chunk of my funds, but ya need money to make money.

Sorry if these sound like beginners questions (I'm kinda a beginner lol), but hey gotta start somewhere right?


Quote:
Originally Posted by hi_speedreed View Post
Since you have no equipment you should do some research into costs. I think you will be surprised at low little $700 is. I see 4x8 and 5x8 utility trailers on craigslist from 400-700. You can make do with residential equipment but it is not built to take the punishment of day in day out work that commercial machines are built for.

21" mower, string trimmer, hedge trimmer and blower are the minimum for what you have described you are looking at ~900 for good quality homeowner stuff, if you buy commercial you could be looking at $2200+
Posted via Mobile Device
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 02-02-2013, 04:53 PM
hi_speedreed hi_speedreed is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 399
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jlin428 View Post
First off, thank you for your input! I appreciate the realism.
Unfortunently, I relieze how little amount of startup money I have but it's all I got for now, hopefully I can upgrade equipment along the way.

When you say homeowner vs. commercial machines I'm just wondering what defines the differences?

I think the easiest way to explain it is a homeowner machine is designed to be used 15 times a year while a commercial machine is designed to be used 15 times a day. I started with a higher end homeowner machine and it lasted barely into my second season. To compare, my dad bought a similar machine and by only mowing his yard he is in his 10th season. I own a commercial mower now and expect to get at least 2500 hrs of run time out of it. Homeowner machines used commercially will void the warranty because that is not what they were intended to do.

I understand what both terms mean, but does Home Depot for example sell both homeowner and commercial units? How would I know? Is there a technical difference between the two?

Home Depot and similar big box stores do not sell commercial equipment. You need to go to a dealer to purchase commercial. What I call a string trimmer has many names. It is regional, some call it weed eater, weed wacker, brush cutter but most manufacturers call their product a string trimmer. If you are comfortable working on your equipment then you could buy trimmers from Home Depot because they do not service, and you will only be able to buy the entry level commercial, the SRM-230. I use the 230 and it suits my needs. You will hear many arguments over Echo, Stihl, Husqvarna, RedMax, Shindaiwa all are makers of commercial products but it is the old Ford Chevy Dodge argument. You will know a commercial product from a homeowner product by doing research and studying how these machines are constructed and if you notice the brands I list are not WeedEater, Homelite, Yardman. Basically your best bet is if a big box sells it, stay away. The brand of mower I use is Hustler. Hustler, Scag, Bobcat, Exmark, Toro, Dixie Chopper, Ventrac, Grasshopper, Wright, Husqvarna, Kubota, Walker, are all well known commercial mower manufacturers. I would recommend going to their respective websites and checking them out.

Also by blower, I assume you mean leaf blower right?


Yes a leaf blower. You will find there are lots of uses for a powerful blower besides just moving leaves. They will be manufactured by the same companies who make the trimmers. This class would be referred to as handhelds. Your trimmer, blower, hedge trimmer, edger. Do not skimp on a blower. You will regret it immensely. The best advice I have seen for blowers is to go look at them, pick up the most expensive one you can afford, then buy the one two steps above it. I have the Husqvarna 570BFS, the 580 is the only one bigger. The 580 produces a slightly greater volume than the 570 but lacks the mph for scouring.

Yeah hopefully I can snag a trailer for relatively cheap, that is going to eat a large chunk of my funds, but ya need money to make money.

Sorry if these sound like beginners questions (I'm kinda a beginner lol), but hey gotta start somewhere right?



Posted via Mobile Device

Like I said previously. You really need to do some research. Look at the cost of equipment. The SRM-230 has a MSRP of $289, The 570BFS $525, so with two pieces of vital equipment I just blew your budget out of the water. You still don't have a trailer or a mower. Everyone says this is an easy business to get into. It is because of the relatively low start up costs. But, most people thinking of making this jump already have the equipment you need to buy so your initial investment will be substantially higher. Realistically, if you really wanted to make a go of this like you say in your first post you are looking at needing capital in the 4-5k range. If you wanted to go full on commercial its closer to 10k with 1 walkbehind mower, if you go with a zero turn you are creeping up close to 15k that is for a trailer and every tool you need to do the job you are describing.

Homeowner grade
quality 21" mower - 350
decent trimmer - 225
good blower - 300
zero turn - 2500
misc hand tools 200 shovels, rakes, brooms, mattock, etc.
trailer 700
hitch 150

total 4425 not counting gas, oil, trimmer line, blades, blade sharpener, filters, or business start up costs such as licensing and insurance.

I am not saying don't make a go of it. I just don't want you jumping into this blindly.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-02-2013, 05:06 PM
jrs.landscaping's Avatar
jrs.landscaping jrs.landscaping is online now
LawnSite Silver Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Maine
Posts: 2,114
Dont' forget business licenses, GL insurance, commercial vehicle insurance, etc..... Our startup budget was $6,500 and we already had a truck and trailer. You really need to figure out your costs before you jump in, dump A LOT of money on an enterprise and realize you are overbudget before you get started. Good luck
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-02-2013, 06:44 PM
CreativeLawncareSolutions's Avatar
CreativeLawncareSolutions CreativeLawncareSolutions is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: cincinnati, oh
Posts: 1,115
I'd try and get hired on part time with another local company that dies lawn care. It would be sort of like a paid apprenticeship. You'll learn about the business. You'll make money. You'll have off days to build your own business.

This is what I'd do if I were you. I assume you're young with no family/mortgage? Take advantage of this opportunity. It's much tougher to start out when you have a wife and kids.
__________________


F-150
14' landscape trailer
52'' Wright Stander
21'' Personal Pace
Stihl handhelds
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 02-03-2013, 08:28 AM
Smallaxe Smallaxe is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Central Wisconsin
Posts: 9,746
I remember I started the business with a used lawnmower, loppers, garden scissors, a couple of rakes and put lawn debris in garbage bags, which I hauled away in my old car... Many of my first clients had their own lawn mowers so I just ran around town mowing lawns lawns after work and on weekends etc...

Bottom line is, prioritize your purchaces rather than worry about having it all now... if you got to be a big dog right off the bat, then statistically it doesn't look good... I spent my whole life watching all kinds of businesses fail, becuz they had to start at the top...
__________________
*
Now that I know that clay's texture(platelets) has nothing to do with water infiltration, percolation, or drainage
,,, I wonder what does...
*
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 02-03-2013, 10:33 AM
STIHL GUY's Avatar
STIHL GUY STIHL GUY is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: CT
Posts: 5,141
if i were you i would stick with the push mower for as long as possible to keep your overhead down...its gonna take time to build up your clients and equipment so be patient...i know you want to have a lot of accounts but dont underbid and end up working for free...just do the best you can and make sure the quality is great on each lawn...the best form of advertisement is word of mouth so keep your customers happy and they'll tell their friends about you...good luck
__________________
2005 Chevrolet 2500HD LS 4x4 6.0L
8' Fisher MM Snowplow
6.5' x 14' Big Tex Open Trailer
61'' Scag V-Ride 29 HP Kawi
48" Exmark Lazer Z HP
48'' Bobcat Ransome Mower
21'' Husqvarna Mower
Stihl FS55R Weedwacker
Stihl FS100RX Weedwacker
Stihl BR600 Backpack Blower
Stihl MS180C Chainsaw
Giant Vac Walk Behind Blower
Kawasaki KHT600S Hedge Trimmer
Giant Vac 16HP Leaf Loader
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 02-03-2013, 11:45 AM
Darryl G Darryl G is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 7,957
With so little start-up money I think that whatever you earn is going to end up having to go back into the business, which is going to greatly limit what you can put in your pocket. Running power equipment on customer's properties without insurance is foolish and irresponsible in my opinion. Also, you will need to at least have a rider on your insurance policy to use your personal vehicle for business use...otherwise if you have a claim while using it for work your insurance company will likely deny it. Also, the lawn care season is longer than the typical college break...it starts while you're still in school and ends after you're back in school.

Instead of what you have planned, this is what I recommend. Skip the mowing and concentrate on general yard work that can be done with limited equipment and without a long-term committment. Stuff like hedge trimming, weeding and mulching requires little equipment and you can fit everything you need in your current vehicle. You can have mulch delivered or haul it in bags in the trunk. If you buy it in bulk you can transport it in 5 gallon buckets if you can't fit a wheelbarrow in your car. You can add things like window washing, deck staining and other services that also require little equipment. Bascially you can work as a domestic-type employee for people helping out around the yard. There are a lot of senior citizens who need a little extra help and are sympathetic to college students. You won't be able to charge as much, but your expenses will be way lower and likely put more money in your pocket. What I described is what my college-age son did last year working out of his Miata and it worked out well for him. He did borrow our station wagon a few times as well and it did help that I was able to send some customers his way. They in turn referred him to friends and neighbors.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 02-03-2013, 01:00 PM
Kelly's Landscaping's Avatar
Kelly's Landscaping Kelly's Landscaping is online now
LawnSite Gold Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Milford CT
Posts: 3,546
You find yourself fortunate to have such a well represented state on the lawn site atm to aid in your advice. Darryl and I are both on the coast like you he's practically your neighbor. And he brings up a great point and its the reason I do not hire collage students. Your time line is all wrong for mowing and doing the maintenance that goes with it. Collage for you ends when beginning of May perhaps Mid may? Spring clean ups are done in march and the first few weeks of April so you cannot offer that and thus lose clientele because of that.

Fine your just mow, only that also starts in April and 2012 it was warm and we had to start the first week of April. So right off the bat your losing the best account building period there is here. Now you can go after lawns later in season we all do but let me be honest with you they tend to be the lawns you would want to run from. Cheap people who tend not to pay on time and waited till the lawn was more than a foot tall to say hey maybe its time to hire someone and I hope they can mow it every 2 weeks or if I am lucky every month.

Now you manage against all odds to build up a list despite those early season handicaps. Great only the grass doesn't stop growing the last week of August here it goes another 8-10 weeks. How do you plan to tell your new clients sorry about the last cuts of the year but I need to go back to collage see ya next summer? So you manage to take your weekends home to mow those accounts and prey it doesn't rain because its the only time you have to complete them. Now Nov is upon you and a large number of them want their leaves cleaned up and removed from their properties how do you plan on accomplishing that?

Now I didn't even touch on how low your start up budget is nor bring up the steps the others here demand to be legitimately running a company.

Now I am not trying to discourage you I am trying to illustrate reality and perhaps keep you from blowing what little money you have before you think this through.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
advise , lawn mowing , new business , start-up , tips

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump





Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©1998 - 2012, LawnSite.comô - Moose River Media
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:36 AM.

Page generated in 0.08649 seconds with 9 queries