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  #1  
Old 06-09-2008, 06:13 PM
Dreamin' Dreamin' is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Western Suburbs, Chicago
Posts: 3
Newbie and a New Business

First let me say that this is the first post I am making on this site. I discovered it while doing a search and was impressed with what I found. I have many questions and in order to help you folks answer them, I will provide some back ground information for you.

I will be 30 years old at the end of this year and have done many different things with my life. From retail jobs while younger, to a fishing guide in Canada during college, to a sales job now, however, I have always wanted to work outside and for myself. After working for a few small business owners and even managing their business for them, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like being your own boss! More headaches.....yes, more satisfaction.....for sure!

After contemplating my options, I have decided to begin a career/business in this industry. The plan is to start on a part time basis while continuing my current job (to keep some money coming in) and then hopefully transitioning into a full time business. I understand that it is late in the year and I want to do this right, so I am currently researching, planning, etc. with a plan of being up and running in the spring of 2009.

Most of my questions revolve around pricing, learning and education. I have been in professional sales for the last 8 years and understand that this really is another sales/service career. I am fortunate in that my significant other is the director of marketing for a national company, so I will use her expertise in that area. However, I am contemplating school and getting a degree in Horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design and construction as well as turf management. Pointless or helpful?

I want to start with the basics of lawn care and eventually move up to include landscape design and construction. What type of equipment would I need to start (ie: size mower, trimmer, edger, hedge clippers, blower, etc.)?

What is the proper way to charge, by the hour of by the job? I am not worried about over pricing since my general area of suburbia contains a lot of wealth.

How long did it take most to establish themselves as a reputable company and begin utilizing the income from their business to support them and their families full time?

What types of insurance is required (if any) and what are its costs?

Do I need legal advising or a lawyer?

I understand that there is a lot to learn and I appreciate all fed back that may be given. Given the length of this post, I will stop here and I look forward to posting with all of you!

Thank You!

Dreamin'
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  #2  
Old 06-10-2008, 01:32 AM
MowHouston MowHouston is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Houston, Tx
Posts: 1,012
Quote:
I am contemplating school and getting a degree in Horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design and construction as well as turf management. Pointless or helpful?
Not needed if you are just doing residential lawn maintenance. Useful as you said for landscaping. You will need a license to spray pesticides for weed problems. Not sure about just fertilizing though.

Quote:
What is the proper way to charge, by the hour of by the job? I am not worried about over pricing since my general area of suburbia contains a lot of wealth.
Figure out how much you want to make and learn what others are charging in your area. You're gonna get guys on here telling you not to charge any less than $40 for a job. But the fact is, they dont know how big your lot sizes are and they dont know the going rate in your area. You're simply going to need to figure out how much you want to make. I go off of a $1 per minute rate and it works fine. With a 21" mower it wasnt possible, and I was doing like $0.60 per min, but with better equipment, that has gone up since I can do more faster.

Quote:
What types of insurance is required (if any) and what are its costs?
Call up your local insurance company and ask them for rates for a lawn service, not landscaping.

Quote:
I want to start with the basics of lawn care and eventually move up to include landscape design and construction. What type of equipment would I need to start (ie: size mower, trimmer, edger, hedge clippers, blower, etc.)?
Starting equipment: 21" mower, trimmer, blower... these are the essentials for a basic lawn service package. I suggest practicing on your own lawn especially using the trimmer to edge. Otherwise get yourself a stick edger.

If you buy this stuff from home depot/lowes it will cost you less to start up but most of that stuff is homeowner equipment and will wear out fast. Buying commercial grade will set you back a few thousand. I started with troybilt equipment from lowes and got started with $800. Now I've got better equipment and I really didnt have too much problems other than my mower's drive belt crapping out on my 5 times last year.

Quote:
How long did it take most to establish themselves as a reputable company and begin utilizing the income from their business to support them and their families full time?
After 3 months during my first year, I had 40 weekly customers averaging $35 per service. After expenses, thats just about enough to cover the basics of living

Quote:
Do I need legal advising or a lawyer?
I would talk to a CPA about your business' taxes. I tried looking into it myself but got a headache.

Check out legalzoom.com about getting your dba and all that.

Hope I've helped. Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 06-10-2008, 01:59 PM
Dreamin' Dreamin' is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Western Suburbs, Chicago
Posts: 3
Great info BGLC! I appreciate the insight as it is always beneficial to learn from others.

I was thinking of getting some of the equipment from a place like Lowes, however, I do not want to end up purchasing equipment again in another year. I was looking at getting into John Deere products. I like what I have seen from them and they have a good program as well.

I hear you regarding the business financials! I will be passing that off to the more capable!

Thanks Again!
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  #4  
Old 06-10-2008, 02:17 PM
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bohiaa bohiaa is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Bellville Texas, near Houston
Posts: 5,017
NEw business is GREAT, keeps us all on our toes....

one thing to think about is money, Most people dont realize that you need to be prepaired NOT to make a penny for at least 3 years.... and with that Spending about 10 to 12 thousand for that ammount of time.....

The Government has some GREAT advice on starting,

A lot of LCO's will start with nothing and get agervated in a few short years realize there NOT turning the profett they expected and working too hard...
then they leave the Business.....

GOOD LUCK
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  #5  
Old 06-10-2008, 02:52 PM
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zemzabob zemzabob is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Location: Richmond KY
Posts: 321
Will this is a great place to learn everything you need to know.
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  #6  
Old 06-10-2008, 05:42 PM
MowHouston MowHouston is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Houston, Tx
Posts: 1,012
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamin' View Post
Great info BGLC! I appreciate the insight as it is always beneficial to learn from others.

I was thinking of getting some of the equipment from a place like Lowes, however, I do not want to end up purchasing equipment again in another year. I was looking at getting into John Deere products. I like what I have seen from them and they have a good program as well.

I hear you regarding the business financials! I will be passing that off to the more capable!

Thanks Again!
The troybilt equipment I bought my first year did the job well. Albeit slower and I had to replace those damn belts.

The mower still gives a great cut, you just cant get as much done as a commercial mower. I dont think any homeowner mower can.

The trimmer I bought was great for even edging. Had a little guide on the front that made it snappy. However, I ran it through hell and back with some thick grass and the thing finally froze up on me.

Blower still works and is my backup or a worker grabs it and helps finish blowing if I'm still at it. I dont expect it to make it to next season though

The thing about Lowes and Home Depot is they wont let you demo their stuff. lol I tried. They looked at me funny.

Get something self propelled, higher horsepower, and seriously... if you find it sucking, TAKE IT BACK and tell them it doesnt cut worth a crap at your home (dont mention running all around town for commercial use) Sounds like a crappy thing to do but you're just getting into the business, you're not sure what to expect from one of those mowers.
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  #7  
Old 06-12-2008, 08:57 PM
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punt66 punt66 is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Simsbury CT
Posts: 8,540
My third year was the real beginning of the good life. My first year was to just get my feet wet and buy some equipment. My second year was to buy more equipment and gain more customers. Did better than expected in my second year, however i put all the money back into business. My third year my business exploded. Then i quit my day job. Full schedule for mowing and installs. Thats the point i started to increase prices and profit. Once you have a full schedule it wont scare you to try and charge more for services. With a full schedule its ok to get a few NO's.

Never ever EVER buy home owner equipment! Buy commercial and dont buy small. Larger mowers cut faster which means more customers.
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  #8  
Old 06-12-2008, 09:45 PM
RonB RonB is offline
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: MS zone 7b
Posts: 429
Your background experience says nothing about hard labor and that's really what lawn care is. Do you cut your own grass? Guess not if no equip.

Are you sure you want to work long, hot days, aching back, pained hands from trimming, etc. have a couple more to do today, then get up in the morning and do it all again? For a few years before you start making a buck?

If this assumption is correct - get a cheap mower, trimmer and blower - get a few clients and do them all in one day - see if it's what you expect it to be. Or work for someone awhile.
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  #9  
Old 06-12-2008, 11:04 PM
tomflan947 tomflan947 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: mount airy maryland
Posts: 25
do not buy john deere equipment it is just a beefed up harry homeowner equipment . look into exmark or toro and shidawa or sthil for trimmers and blowers
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  #10  
Old 06-13-2008, 01:04 PM
Dreamin' Dreamin' is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Western Suburbs, Chicago
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonB View Post
Your background experience says nothing about hard labor and that's really what lawn care is. Do you cut your own grass? Guess not if no equip.

Are you sure you want to work long, hot days, aching back, pained hands from trimming, etc. have a couple more to do today, then get up in the morning and do it all again? For a few years before you start making a buck?

If this assumption is correct - get a cheap mower, trimmer and blower - get a few clients and do them all in one day - see if it's what you expect it to be. Or work for someone awhile.


Please do not assume! Though I am currently in a "professional sales" position, my back ground includes roofing, framing, trim work, concrete, etc. Sooo, I do know about hard, long days and being sore and tired. Most of my friends are also in the trades!

Yes, I do my own lawn care and all of the other work that goes along with owning a home. Just because I inquired as to what type of commercial equipment does not mean I have zero equipment. I am not about to use that stuff for everyday work and wear it out!

Not trying to be an @ss, but again, please don't make assumptions.

That is too bad with regards to JD, I really liked what I had to see. I guess I will not rule them out, but I will expand my research.
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