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Old 11-20-2015, 04:41 PM
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Jason F Jason F is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Gainesville, FL
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New Business: want input from Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay, Florida

I'm moving to North Florida next month and will be starting a lawn care business. I am all ears for any advice you have to give, especially anything specific to North Florida lawn care. I have about $10,000 to start the business, and I refuse to borrow any money whatsoever. I have no equipment at this time (no truck, trailer, mower, etc). I plan to start small but grow steadily, and strive to provider even higher quality than the competitors. For more info on my ideas/plans, see below. That said, my most pressing questions are:
  1. I plan to start off with a push mow, blower, trimmer, edger, and pressure washer. Do you recommend anything different when starting off?
  2. Do you recommend I get one of those combination kits for some of the equipment, or stick with single-use equipment?
  3. What make and model do you suggest for the equipment listed above?
  4. How do you recommend I remove trimmings from the lawn? Get a (cheap) mower that has a bagger? Blow the trimmings into the street? Other?
  5. I'm considering $50-60/hour, is that reasonable?
  6. Is there any free/cheap software you would recommend when starting off?
  7. How do you recommend getting clients who are willing to pay for quality?

Thanks for reading and answering! If you care, more info about me and what I plan to do is below.

I've been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts (Lawn Care Business Success, Lawn Care Marketing Expert, Lawn Care Millionaire), and reading some leadership/small business books. I have a marketing plan that includes Google Places, website, social media, flyers, etc. I plan to start small, no debt, and build steadily hoping to gross $100,000 the first year. I hope to hire 1 part time helper year one, and 1 full time helper year two. I have a list of services I will offer that goes far beyond mowing. I plan to compete with the big dogs, not the guys who like to compete on price and offer simple services.

Last edited by Jason F; 11-20-2015 at 04:46 PM. Reason: Changed Title
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  #2  
Old 11-20-2015, 06:20 PM
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easy-lift guy easy-lift guy is online now
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Venice, FL. USA
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Your post is very ambitious. Here are some questions for you.
Where exactly in Northern Florida do you plan on setting up shop?
What is your age, your health, married or single, dependents?
What experience do you have in this industry?
Why do you want to choose this occupation?

I would suggest contacting score.org and schedule an appointment with a councilor. You can learn how to prepare an actual business plan and when you schedule your next appointment you will have time to review and adjust going forward. Have your list of other questions ready as well. Ask about any mentoring programs available for more one on one support. Everything else that you have already mentioned can and will be covered by your score councilor. The cost is free and the peace of mind is priceless.
All the best
easy-lift guy
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Old 11-20-2015, 07:35 PM
Dave2 Dave2 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Frederick, MD
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Start with a 36" used commercial mower. You can probably find good ones around 1200 if you buy now.

We have a free starter plan for clipitc.com that will help you get some good systems in place from the beginning.

I like using separate equipment. I think if you get used and clean it up you would probably get the most bang for your buck.

Get your website up this year and focus on seo etc. While you are waiting to launch. Getmagnetic signs at least also.
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Old 11-21-2015, 04:26 PM
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Jason F Jason F is offline
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Location: Gainesville, FL
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Dave2 and Easy-Lift Guy, thank you for your responses! In response to your questions, I'll be in Gainesville, FL; I'm 31, great health, getting married in January, no children, no experience in lawn care beyond doing my own, and the occasional volunteer gig years ago. I chose lawn care because of the ROI: low cost of entry, high potential earnings.

Dave2, a lot of what you said helps confirm what I'm already thinking. However, I'm leaning more towards have 1 piece of equipment with attachments. Read my reasons, and tell me what you think. I'm starting off as a one-man shop, so having 1 piece of equipment that does multiple functions won't slow me down. I also have limited startup capital, and refuse to go into debt, so attachments are cheaper. Also, I'm not sure how often I will be using the hedge trimmer attachment, for instance, and would rather spend $100-200 on an attachment if I don't end up using it regularly. What are your thoughts?

I was already planning on focusing on SEO, website, and magnetic signs for the truck. The advice to get a used 36" commercial mower is helpful, as it should strike a good balance with cost and efficiency, especially starting up.
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  #5  
Old 11-21-2015, 05:43 PM
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easy-lift guy easy-lift guy is online now
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Jason, you need to really sit down and have a meeting with a score councilor at your earliest convenience.
You really should have a business plan and someone to review and advise you with the knowledge and experience necessary to better the chances of your success.
I believe your under capitalized for your future business.
Although your decision to start in this industry is because of ROI, Low cost of entry and high potential earnings reality will kick in very quickly when you actually have a net income to work with after all of your expenses.
You will have a lot more expenses than what you have budgeted for ATM, especially with no customers and professional experience in the field. It will not happen over night, and you will need to marshal all of your resources in order to make this a reality.
All the best
easy-lift guy
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  #6  
Old 12-05-2015, 09:33 AM
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Florida Gardener Florida Gardener is online now
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I lived in Gainesville for 2 years while attending UF and imo I would not start a landscaping company there due to the demographic.

From what I've heard, Jacksonville would be the only place in North Florida I would do so.
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Old 12-05-2015, 10:31 AM
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Jason F Jason F is offline
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Location: Gainesville, FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida Gardener View Post
I lived in Gainesville for 2 years while attending UF and imo I would not start a landscaping company there due to the demographic.

From what I've heard, Jacksonville would be the only place in North Florida I would do so.
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Thanks for the input, and I agree with you that the demographic will make things difficult because 51,000 of the 125,000 in the city are college students who are almost certainly not responsible for lawn care decisions. However, my plan is to market to the owners of the properties, not the tenants. Gainesville may not be the best market around, but it's where I'll be living, and as they say, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:16 AM
Mow-Daddy.com Mow-Daddy.com is online now
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I agree with most of the above advice. One thing I would avoid is the multi tools. On paper they sound good, in the field if motor won't start now you have no hand helds period. Also you can't make $50 to $60 per hr with a push mower. at most $20-$25 Productivity is what gets you to those higher figures. A home owner who took 2 1/2 hrs to push mow and trim his yard may not mind paying someone 50-60 to mow his lawn.you have to be able to go in there and bust it out in 1 hr or less and do a BETTER job than the home owner did. You will not do that with a push mower.
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Old 12-05-2015, 11:57 AM
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Florida Gardener Florida Gardener is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason F View Post
Thanks for the input, and I agree with you that the demographic will make things difficult because 51,000 of the 125,000 in the city are college students who are almost certainly not responsible for lawn care decisions. However, my plan is to market to the owners of the properties, not the tenants. Gainesville may not be the best market around, but it's where I'll be living, and as they say, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
It's not just college students. Most of the demographic is working class stiffs.
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Old 12-05-2015, 12:35 PM
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easy-lift guy easy-lift guy is online now
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The OP will learn very quickly that the market is saturated in Gainesville with lots of cheap labor to compete against.
A progress report in a years time will be about all the time and money needed in order for the OP make a go of his business venture.
easy-lift guy
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