A College Guy Starting Up a Lawn Care Business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by xCarsonx, Apr 5, 2007.

  1. xCarsonx

    xCarsonx LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I am 23 and in college and a friend and I were looking into mowing a few lawns after work and on sat. to make a few dollars for school. We would be starting real small: 2 push mowers, a truck, and some determination. As the business brought in money we would upgrade our equipment as needed by demand. We currently live a few hours from our college campus, and we both will be going back to school in the fall and hopefully moving the business there. We are looking to just make an extra $100-200 a week. We both have full time jobs.

    I am more interested in learning how to run a successful business as opposed to making a million dollars. I was looking to get a little advice on how to start everything up. I have read that driving around putting flyers in people’s mailboxes is illegal. From this forum I have seen so far that people put up door hangers. Is that the standard way to advertise on a budget? Also, I wanted to get everyone’s opinion on how customers would respond to two college kids mowing their grass after work and on the weekends. Does anyone else do something like this? Thanks
     
  2. bigmudder77

    bigmudder77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    i gave a bid on a guys lawn that had 2 collage kids mow his lawn on "there time" he did nothing but talk bad about them he said he wanted it done during the day and not on weekends when he was home the came late at night or on weekends it was cheap pay but he said the work was so crappy he would never hire some one like that ever again

    most people want there lawn mowed right not just some one that does it on the side with little push mowers. if you want more work get another job that way you have money comming in all the time you will have to spend alot of money just starting out on advertising, equipment, and it alot of work to run a business. if it was easy wouldnt every one be doing it?

    when i was younger i mowed lawn with a truck and a push mower i drove around on back roads cause i didnt have a licenses i got some yards to mow but it wasnt any big pay cause i didnt have the equipment to do it. and i didnt really know how to do it well.

    its up to you though but your gonna need to spend alot of time and money just getting people to hear about you. i have spent $200 on advertising and only got 2 more people for sure and about 5 calls so its not as easy as you think. but i guess if your working for $5 a yard you might get lots of calls, but if they take you to court your done.
     
  3. MrTim

    MrTim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    My Brother-in-Law started at your age. He has always done a good job and his account sheet shows it. He has assembled 3 full time(summer) crews, lived within his means and bought a $150,000 run down 80 acre farm just north of a popular resort community. He now runs a 1st class operation out a large pole barn that is twice the size of the tiny house they live in.

    This week he signed a purchase agreement to sell everything but the business, the pole barn, and 2 lots for 1.2 million dollars.

    He is 37 years old.

    You have the chance to do the same thing.
     
  4. xCarsonx

    xCarsonx LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    I 100% plan on doing a good job. I really only wanted to get into mowing lawns and maybe mulching & maintaining flower beds this season. I am planning on talking it slow to really learn what I am doing. If there are any good resources for upstart lawn services I would appreciate the info.

    My main concerns are mowing after work and on Sat. I don’t want to put 100 hours into starting my business only to learn that everyone hates getting their grass mowed on such occasions. Also for advertising, can you just stick letters in mail boxes or is it just safer to get door hangers.
     
  5. MrTim

    MrTim LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    www.iprint.com

    4000 Post it notes for less than $80

    (Thanks 1MajorTom)
     
  6. stroker51

    stroker51 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 819

    I too am a college student, part time, and do this full time. I never really paid much attention to the college kids mowing to make a buck crowd until this year when i lost a few accounts to a classmate of mine who is going to "cut back on hours at work to mow". He has 3 yards, 2 of which where mine. He knows the people that own them, they're trying to help him out, blah blah blah. I don't mind losing work to a legitimate business, at least not as much, but when he doesn't need insurance because "I'm not going to be a business." or, since he's not a lawn care business, he is only going to mow, no trimmer or blower, it drives me nuts. Ok, he needs money for school, guess what, I'm trying to make a living, pay truck/mower payments, rent, and go to school. Sorry to go on and on, my point is, IF you are going to do this as a college kid, be legit. And once you start, make sure you do a good job and don't cut corners just because you're not "a business." Probably most importantly, dont' use your low to no overhead as an excuse to cut a yard for half of what a real LCO is charging. If I sound negative and discouraging, I'm sorry, I'm not trying too, if you in fact intend on starting a business, and have to work weird hours for a while, then do it, I do this full time and still haven't been getting back to the shop till dark the last two weeks. If you're going to start a business, good luck, we all had to start somewhere, I started my freshman year in high school with an 84 F250 and a John Deere 14SB 21" mower, echo trimmer and cheap blower. Now I'm a freshman in college, I have a Ford 250 PSD, 350 PSD, 2 trailers, 3 w/b's a mid Z and stander, countless hand tools, 2 snow plows, etc. I'm all about starting young, just do it right when you do it. Good luck in your venture.
     
  7. xCarsonx

    xCarsonx LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    I appreciate the feed back. I am not taking anything negatively. The main reasons for doing this would be learning how to start and manage a successful business. I think many lessons could carry over to other aspect of life.

    Regarding an average customer, what do they typically expect? Do most customers want more than just their lawn mowed and edged? And I am still a little confused on getting my name out there initially. What did most of you do?

    Once again thanks for putting up with my amateur questions.
     
  8. bigmudder77

    bigmudder77 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 297

    you can put flyers in PAPER BOXES not mail boxes the paper box is fine. or at least i havnt had any troble with it other wise word of mouth is good
     
  9. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 375

    I wasted money on flyers. They didn't do me much good. And they were tedious to tape door-to-door. There is absolutely no way of getting around spending money on advertising. In my area, I'm competing with lots of very established companies with huge budgets for advertising. With that being said, I decided that my homemade, Staples printed 4 1/4x11 two-sided black&white, homemade flyers were just not gonna cut it. I would recommend using post-it-notes from iprint.com, post cards, door hangers, pretty much anything professionally done. If you are in a nice area, people with the kind of money who can pay for lawncare and property maintenance like to see very professional advertisements. They just don't go for the johnny lawn guy homemade crap. Of course, everything is relative. What works for one LCO may not for another. BEFORE YOU SPEND A PENNY OR EVEN DEVOTE ANY TIME TO WORKING ON ANY ADVERTISMENTS - READ THIS THOROUGHLY, TWICE MAYBE THREE TIMES.
    http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/kuraoka/flyer.htm
    It has a wealth of critical information which will hopefully help you to market most effectively. Good Luck.
    P.S. - READ HERE A LOT. Run searchs for topics you would like to learn about and you will likely find answers without the hassle of posting threads.
     
  10. Ecoscape01

    Ecoscape01 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 375

    And it is against Federal Law to insert in or attach anything to a mailbox. The post itself is questionable. Some have admitted here that when they were new they did it and got away with it. I put hundreds out that way and I got no call from the postmaster. From what I've been told, you will most likely get a warning at first but that is a gamble you will have to decide whether or not you are willing to take because you can be fined for each box.
     

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