16 and starting out, NEED help from experienced!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by milk, Mar 19, 2006.

  1. milk

    milk LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Hey everyone, i'm 16 years old and i'm just starting out in the lawn business. I'm hoping to set up a business in my neighborhood by passing out fliers, and going door to door. I'm going to be mowing lawns every week per client, and fertilizing and insect control every 2 months per client. I have a few questions however.

    My first questions is about pricing. I live in a upper middle class neighborhood, and the front and backyards probably take 20 minutes to do each one ( I have a self propelled mower) , maybe a little less. I was thinking about $20 a week per lawn I mow, as $20 is a solid price, and its less than what the professional lawn services charge. Is this too much? too small? And for fertilizer and insect control, i'll be doing that every two months, so I was thinking about charging $18 for that? Too much? Too little? I'm new to the game, so I don't know how the pricing works. By the way, how much do the professional lawn services charge? Also, is it best to collect money after every time you cut/ fertilizer etc, or is best to do it say once a month? Should I make them sign a contract binding them to my services, or would that be too excessive?

    Another question I had was about how to advertise. I was thinking about just making some creative, but professional fliers, and going door to door and telling them what I will do, etc? What is the best way to do this/ put on your fliers, so that people will trust you, and want to hire you?

    I also had a question about fertilizing, mowing, and insect control. I know mowing once a week is the norm, but am I right about fertilizer and insect control? Every 2 months? What is the best way to apply the fertilizer and insect control? I heard that putting the fertilizer down first, and then the insect control a week later is the best option.

    So all in all, I'm pretty prepared for it. I'm going to have a big calender where I plan out my business, etc. Now is there anything else that I could possibly do to expand my profit thats easy, such as aerating? I read up on aerating, but it looks like I would need to purchase an aerator, and those are pretty expensive. Also, when I mow lawns, should I trim the edges with a weed whacker? Well, those are all my questions.

    Thanks for everything guys! I know it's a lot of questions, but I just want to make sure I'm doing this right.

    Tony
     
  2. kbrashears

    kbrashears LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 763

    You'd better hold off on the fertility and insecticide applications without a chemical license. You could get into some serious trouble.
     
  3. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,278

    OH Boy you do need help my friend.....First off you need to be licensed to apply apply pesticides and weed control, and if your gonna do it don't BROAD CAST it on here.

    Second: do you know your costs for the products? If the material 4 one lawn costs you $15 surely you can't apply the chemical for $18...WHeres the profit?????

    NExt if a lawn is taking you 40 minuets to cut and trim, you can't charge $20, you need to be in around $40 (Depending on your area). Charging Half of what bigger companies charge is not a good practice.

    Personally I would stay away from Fert. until you get alittle more knowledgeable. The best thing for you to do is to talk to a smaller LCO in your area to get a feel for how things are done in your area.
    Oh and at some point in time you are goin to have to purchase Insurance for your business, and register your business name...you can' t do this until your 18.
     
  4. MysticLandscape

    MysticLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    what kind of mower do you have?
     
  5. befnme

    befnme LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,413

    ^^^^^ DITTO ^^^^^ please dont lower the average in your area by lowballing . charge a decent rate . and as far as apps are concerned leave em for the pro's. best bet is to work for a lawn co. for a while and get some experience.
     
  6. studentlawns.org

    studentlawns.org LawnSite Member
    Posts: 8

    Get listed on http://www.studentlawns.org

    You have to mow the lawn of a senior citizen or military veteran monthly to stay listed but great publicity.

    Good Luck.
     
  7. PMLAWN

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    So you want advice and help from experienced guys (do you mean the professionals) and than you state that you will undercut us. :hammerhead:
     
  8. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,278

    What is the world coming to...Im afraid to even look at the link, by the sound of his post.
     
  9. oslo

    oslo LawnSite Member
    Posts: 54

    Hey, don't let these guys discourage you. I think it is great that you are 16 and trying to start a business, while most of your friends are playing Nintendo.

    Charge what makes sense to you, if it takes you an hour to mow one persons lawn in your neighborhood, figure out your costs and charge accordingly. It is not your problem that other companies have bigger costs than you and charge more. This is still America where if you can provide a service that the customer is happy with for less $$ you will do well. The way I see it you have to charge much less than professional companies or you won't get much work...

    Example, at 16, you would probably be getting 6 or 7 dollars and hour if you got a regular job. So if it a house in your neighborhood that takes an hour to do, you have no bills or overhead really, and want to charge 25$ for that lawn, do it.

    That $25 for the hour work...minus gas used, etc.. the way I see it, as long as you end up making more than the $6-7/hour that you would be making if you got a job, your ahead of the game.

    As far as the fert/herb/pesticide.... you generally do not need a license to apply any Fert or hericide that you can buy over the counter(home-depot, wal mart). You do need to be licensed to apply Pesticide. Check with your state though, and make sure you are aware of the Hyper-sensitivity list.

    I would forget about pesticide, offer the fert/weed condtrol if you want. The stuff is pretty expensive though, so just charge them accordingly.

    Flyers should be fine, maybe an ad in your local newspaper. Just walk your tail off passing out flyers, you should get plenty of customers for a small operation.

    If I were you, I would not even think about aerating or the applications. I would concentrate on mowing, and you should be plenty busy. If you don't have an aerator already, the only way it would make sense is if you lined up several for the same day and rented one, but they are heavy, awkward, and just beat you up in general, especially at 16.

    Good luck, I just pray my son shows some of the same motivation when he gets to your age.
     
  10. befnme

    befnme LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,413


    yeh thats it ... convince him to lowball to get jobs .dont encourage him to charge a decent rate .




    apparently you dont have applicator knowledge or you would know that you infact " DO " need a license to apply "ANY " pesticide or fert with an epa # on it.wether it comes from lowes ,home depot ,wal mart or a chem dealer .



    i hate to tell ya but you will prob only average 1 or 2 % return on your flyers .
    i think you need to learn a little more before you give advise on these topics.
     

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