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  #21  
Old 02-04-2013, 09:09 AM
CreativeLawncareSolutions's Avatar
CreativeLawncareSolutions CreativeLawncareSolutions is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: cincinnati, oh
Posts: 1,514
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jlin428 View Post
You have a good point, and I agree with it to a certain level. The way I look at it, since I will most likely be running it all by myself for now, I feel the likeliness of somebody getting hurt is reduced. There is always a risk with everything one does.

When it gets to the point where I need to hire people to work for me, that is another story. You do have a point, I really shouldn't risk it especially when it comes to other people. Getting insurance sounds pretty serious from the feedback I have gotten so far. Like I said, it is something that I would like to have, but I am just not made of money (yet).





Wow, that's really not that bad at all. If you don't mind me asking, how big is your business? It sounds like 2 mil of coverage is a pretty high number for a 1 man business. I will look into this with my current insurance company though. Thanks!





Well thanks for your input, I really mean that as well. Just to let you know, its not that I don't want to run a legitimate business, its that I don't think I can afford to run a legitimate business. After I make a little bit more money, I would like to purchase insurance and all that stuff, but with where I am at now I need to utilize every dollar I have and basic equipment outweighs insurance to me. I understand where you are coming from, non-legitimate businesses are frowned upon and unfortunately I am going to have to deal with that negativity until I can afford it. Gotta do what ya gotta do man.

Also, I do plan to ask my mom on tax stuff, I just figured that since you are in the industry you might be able to give me advise from a business point of view. No sweat though.
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.
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  #22  
Old 02-06-2013, 03:57 PM
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Jlin428 Jlin428 is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Mystic, CT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perdonlandscaping View Post
-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.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Set Apart Lawn Care View Post
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.

2. Advertising
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.


3. Bidding
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.




Quote:
Originally Posted by CreativeLawncareSolutions View Post
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 (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=396536), and the other seeking advise on Selecting a Trailer (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=396705)... If anyone would like to, I really could use some input on both of the subjects!


Every bit of advise helps, thank you guys so much! I am getting a lot of input that will greatly help me in my efforts!
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  #23  
Old 02-06-2013, 09:38 PM
Set Apart Lawn Care Set Apart Lawn Care is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 108
No problem, I am glad to help someone not make my mistakes. On that note, $30 is what I thought too starting out. Its not enough, in my opinion. But you only have a pushmower so that is probably your max until you can up grade to atleast a 36" walk behind. Also thinking about time spent at the yard can fool you, you have to consider driving time. Not counting driving time is the difference between $250 and $300 in a day and charging $30 and hour over $35 is the difference between that $300 and $350. I charge $40 per man hour today. So a crew with 3 guys needs to do about $1000-$1100 in a 10 hour day (taking off an hour for getting ready and unloading at the end of the day and a lunch break.

However, your right in that this is just something that you have to learn over time. Its not the worst thing to price some to low at first, you'll get some where you get burned and some where you do really well. Man just stick it out, you win some you lose some.

I was talking about building credit for the business, but having good credit benefits your life altogether. Trust me what you do now affects you in years to come when it comes to car loans, home loands, buying equipment, etc.

The first year of any business sucks. Odds are against you. I had a second job waiting tables from October to February the first two years and my wife worked full time. I didn't know about lawnsite though and learned everything the hard way. So your already one up on me!

Good luck! you can pm me anytime you have a question, glad to help if I can.
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  #24  
Old 02-06-2013, 10:32 PM
Reflection Reflection is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 16
Honestly, the experience you would gain by working for a real landscaping company for the summer will be just as valuable as the actual cash you will earn.

Instead you're going to end up wasting an entire year struggling just to find the gas money to serve the handful of customers you will have and you'll be stuck in the same situation next year. No money to start a real business and no money to go to colllege.

Take advantage of your living situation. Get a job with a landscaping company and save your money. Most of the questions you've asked in this thread will be answered and you'll also gain the skills to start your business off with a good reputation. You might even find out that this isn't what you want to do.

Without capital and credit your business can't succeed. What are you going to do when your car breaks down? How many times can your parents afford to bail you out? What happens when your mower inevitably wont start? Who's going to fix it and how are you going to pay them?

I applaud your ambition, but what you're doing right now is more like creating a summer job, not starting a business. Let someone else take all the risk for now and you can just worry about working hard, learning about the business and meeting people in the industry who could be a huge asset when you are ready to startup. With your attitude you should have no problem finding a good job in the field.
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