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Old 06-01-2010, 11:53 PM
Mike821 Mike821 is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Central NJ
Posts: 69
40 and looking to start a landscaping co.

Short history....owned a landscaping business for three years when I was 22-25. Sold it at the end of year 3. Worked for the last 15 years in IT (computers). Laid off two weeks ago. Looking to start my own gig doing what I love working outside.

I have a great wife who has a great job. Her job is stable and she receives all heath insurance that our family needs. Lets just say she is made for the corporate world and has accelerated at a quick pace. This gives me the ability to try something new.

I am 40 and my body is not like it once was in my 20's. I had a back injury that caused two bulged disks and fragmented two vertebra. From time to time I have issues....pain in the arm as a result of a pinched nerve. This concerns me as the landscaping field is labor intensive and demands a great deal from your body. Not to mention that I am 75lbs overweight....that does not help. I still don't want to throw in the towel with thoughts of owning my own landscaping business once again. Everyone has issues of some kind. Knees...back.....and so on. I have spilled my life story out on paper, I have some questions I would be grateful if you all can comment on.

Do you think starting a landscaping business given today's economy is a good idea. The good majority of you are already established. If you had to start over today, would you?

Earning potential.....year 1...2...3 I am looking to clear 40K the first year. (not including snow) Is this a high expectation, or the sky is the limit if your are hungry to earn the cash.

Equipment....I have been reading the posts relentlessly only to come across mixed responses. New....used....some new....some used. Reliability?? I want to purchase a 8-9K ZTR 54" Scag as I want to maximize my time. One walk behind...say a 36" for the fenced in areas, a push mower for bs if needed, Echo trimmers and backpack blower, a trailer (16ft double axil open w/drop gate), and any other hand tools I need to get the job done. I know I am going to hear it about the new equipment...but starting out and being a one man band, breaking down is not the best thing one can have happen. Not to mention the 3-5 acre accounts I intend to pick up. The area in NJ I plan on servicing has some large properties. Chasing a walk behind would not be the most effective way to manage time in my own opinion.

Truck...well I just bought a Ford F250 CC short box. I wanted a long box, but the price was right and I said I would live with a 6ft bed instead of a 8ft bed. Not to mention that a crew with a 8ft bed has the turning radius of a school buss. Plowing would be a nightmare. Lets just say I am set with my truck. 57K on a 04....tight as can be and a nice truck to boot. 5.4 gasser.... I had a 05 6.0 F350 that was nothing but a nightmare. I got rid of the truck as a result of all the issues. Diesel is nice, but I don't plan on pulling down a house. At least not just yet. LOL

What are some tips and tricks in regard to registering my business, licensing, and forming a LLC?

I also plan on investing the time to obtain my pesticide license for the start of the 2011 season. Is it worth the time these days with those cheep "O" franchises running a muck charging next to fertilize.

Any other suggestions/comments would be much appreciated.

Thanks guys!
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Old 06-02-2010, 01:30 AM
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lifetree lifetree is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 5,370
There really is no good estimate on how many LCO's have gone out of business in the last 2 years, or conversely, how many new LCO's have gone into business !! My advice would be, find something else to do.
2007 Dixon RAM MAG 50" ZTR
2006 Dixon RAM MAG 50" ZTR
2005 Dixon RAM 50" ZTR w/ Clam Shell Bagger
2005 Gravely 34" ZTR
2010 LESCO 48" Stand-On
2008 LESCO 36" Hydro WB
2008 Quick 36" Samurai Dually WB
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Old 06-02-2010, 02:27 AM
rjh4758 rjh4758 is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: south central Oklahoma
Posts: 220
40K may be a bit of a stretch unless you have the funds to kill it with advertising and if starting this year I just don't see it happening this late in the game. It will take time to get a customer base.

If your back is prone to giving you problems bouncing around on a ZTR is not going to be good on it. The extra weight should come off as you will be most likely more active than you are now. You know the situation with your back better than us and if you think it might take you out of commission then how could you service your account while you recoupe as a solo?
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:54 PM
Toy2 Toy2 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Waco, Texas
Posts: 1,926

I think the economy is going to hurt you, plus not sure what your comp. is, around here we have a ton of Mexi's that will mow for $10.00 a yard.

In the same area we have a retired teacher, about 60, drives a new Tundra, small 6 x 12 with a 34" rider and a push mower and mows about 20 to 30 yards a week.

He the type if he gets the job fine, if not he doesn't care, so he must have a great retirement.

Look into roof washing.
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:52 PM
sweatyclippingcoveredguy sweatyclippingcoveredguy is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Allentown PA
Posts: 183
Wouldn't recommend it, this is a young person's kind of labor, and an older person's job to manage. It's a big stretch to make that money in your first year. As said before, unless you have the dough to start up with the advertising, and can deal with everything a solo op entails...
Oh and believe me your new equipment will start breaking pretty quickly unless you are diligent with your maintenance.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:32 PM
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SLMGT SLMGT is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Savannah, Ga
Posts: 245
40K the first year will be tough unless your client base grows quickly from the get go. I'm not familiar with the type of grasses you will be mowing and the interval you will be mowing at. Most of my clients are every two weeks with a few that are mowed every ten days and even fewer that are weekly. Basically I figure that each client averages out to about 1K per year counting mulch, pine straw, etc.

Starting out it will be hard to justify hired help which would help out with the physical part. If you could make it on 20K the first year and work to build a satisfied client base, next year you should exceed 40K. Really what you make is only limited by your ability to gain customers and keep them happy. Hopefully you can tough it out, grow the business and eventually let the employees handle the physical part, while you concentrate on quality control, sales, cost control and other business issues.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:48 PM
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whosedog whosedog is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: northern nj
Posts: 730
Don't want to be rude but I looked at your past posts and you've been asking this question since 2007;if you don't know the answer by now;you never will.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:51 PM
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joel29m joel29m is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: p ville, la
Posts: 646
just give it a try, but it will be hard as hell with the way everything is with the economy. but good luck and have fun with mastering it.
2014 ram sport
6x12 trailer
42 inch hustler fastrack superduty
echo srm 266 trimmer
echo srm 2400 trimmer
redmax ebz 6500 blower
echo bp 250 blower
john deere stick edger
2 crapsman push mowers
20 inch key start lawnboy self propelled
weedeater gas hedgetrimmer

6 1/2 years in business
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Old 06-05-2010, 02:54 AM
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Exact Rototilling Exact Rototilling is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Zone: 5B
Posts: 5,344
Your back issues would be the biggest concern...JMO. Even in just light duty no real heavy grunt work - just running power equipment would be an issue or potential issue. I'd avoid serious back issues like the plague or work that would aggravate it. If I was looking for helper I would not hire you. Not trying to be jerk but I would only hire fit and trim athletic type folks for all aspects of my business. I'm 45 myself and I can easily pass for mid 30's and I'm in very good shape for my age not much worse for the wear [hernia is the only exception] over what I was when I was 27 or so. Taking a financial gamble less of an issue - it's just money.

In this industry there are many half price hacks - even the mowing rates in my area from established reputable companies are low. If I would of kept a $35 min charge for mowing tiny lawns and taken the advice of many posters here 3+ years ago on lawnsite "bid like you don't need them" I would of been out of business already. There will always be those here that say their customers will fall all over themselves to cut a you $45 check for a tiny lawn that only took them 12 min to mow and trim. Besides many people don't like riding mowers on their property. Frankly if I was to ever retire someday and I hired a lawn Co. I'd rather not see someone riding around on a ZTR who looks like they needs to be walking behind a lighter mower for the exercise benefit alone. Even out of shape, overweight, age challenged, homely customers prefer to look at healthy, high energy, fit and able bodied toned workers on their property. It's a cruel world but it is what it is.

I think pizza delivery is good option for extra $....frankly may do that myself this winter instead of snow again. All the best
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Last edited by Exact Rototilling; 06-05-2010 at 03:01 AM.
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Old 06-05-2010, 08:51 AM
hackitdown hackitdown is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Groton, MA
Posts: 2,431
I started at 40, but with no physical problems except being 25 lbs overweight. My wife has a corporate job, the benefits are a very big plus as you know. You have a huge advantage where you have prior experience. Starting with a ZTR is smart. I learned fast that a WB limits your ability to make money.

Making $40k is possible, especially with plowing. I did $10K in plowing my first year. To get the other $30K, you will need to NET another $1K per week in the summer. So do the math, anything is possible. If you can mow 30 lawns at $50 each, grossing $1500 per week, you can make it. My first year I only managed to get up to 10 accounts, I think. Good luck.

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