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Advice (Long Story)

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by jmcooper, Mar 18, 2001.

  1. jmcooper

    jmcooper LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    Just found this site yesterday and it really has lots of great information. I'm just now getting into doing lawn care full time. I worked my last job in computers for 18 1/2 years and got laid off last September. I have been cutting grass ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I swore up and down, once I get laid off I'll never work for anyone else again. I ended up getting a good severance package and still drawing unemployment until the end of May. I have purchased most of the equipment I'll need but lack the lawn mower. I will be doing mostly residential but I do have a couple of businesses lined up. Most residents are about 1/2 to 1 acre in size. What would be the best mower to start off with? Would I really need a riding mower at first or should I wait until next season after I build up a customer database? How many customer should I start off with? Right now I have about a dozen lined up. I am not in financial debt, all I owe for is my truck, 98 Chevy LWB 1500 W/T, $128 a month payment. I have my insurance lined up but I have another question about license. I have called the local courthouse business license division and they keep telling me I don't have to have a business license. I hate to say it but I live in Northern Alabama where we are bass ackwards from everyone else. What license can I tell them I want? I've called them 3 times and each time they tell me I don't need one but I want to get one for tax purposes. Also, what about a city license?

    Around here, the one's I have talked to about maintaining their yard, I get the same remark from each of them "Every time I get someone to mow my lawn, they cut it a few times to save them up some beer money and I never see them again."
    Remember I'm from Alabama, this is where we go to family reunions to pick up women. (joking)

    Any remarks good or bad will be appreciated. This business will be run by myself for the first season and then after that I am going to add some help. One more thing, I will not undercut someone else just to get their business, I do not believe in back-stabbing.
  2. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    I'm on my way to bed, but I'll put my 2 cents in quickly!

    1. I'd start with a 48" walkbehind (commercial, of course) mower and work up to a ZTR in the future if I were you.

    2. Take on as many customers as you can currently handle. Now, make sure you leave time to make sure that all these customers are satasfied, not just mowed! Another thing, having a million customers does not mean anything!! You have to make sure they are profitible ones, and you have to constanly weed through them once you get a packed scheduele, so you can get rid of the least profitable accounts and take on the mroe profitable ones.

    3. Licence: I'm no expert in this area, but the only licencse you may want (depending on the services you will offer) would be a contractors license, which in CT it was going for $200 or less I believe and there wasn't anything to do I don't think to get your # besides Show them the money!! For tax purposes you should register your small business and they will issue you a little tax id # and a little certificate that looks like something you'd see in Bubba's corner store, that says you pay taxes and are allowed to be in Business.

    I didn't go into anything in depth, but this should help you a long the path.

    Hope it helped!
  3. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Posts: 4,831

    First of all, I would do a lot of reading here to see what others have said about different mowers. I have a link page on my website that has 74 topics, all brands of mowers, Business Starting, Buying equipment, you will see. Just click here to get there. http://www.elmlawnsite.com/lawnsite_post_links.htm

    I have quite a bit of info on my site too. You can always get there by clicking on my little red house.

    I can understand not wanting to work for someone. Good Luck. :)
  4. Chopper Lover

    Chopper Lover LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 288

    Welcome to Lawnsite and Welcome to Life in the Great Outdoors!

    Here is my advice:

    As for a mower, I would go with a commercial walk behind. New if you can afford it, but used in good shape is ok. I would go with either a 32" or a 36". I personally pick the 36" because it is 4" bigger and will fit into most back yards. It is also easy to handle. (Make sure you practice and take your time for a while, they can and will get away from you if you are not careful.) A 48" is nice but won't help you without a 4' gate to get into a back yard. That leaves you with a little push mower and that takes time. Time = Money. I would stay away from riding mowers, i.e., lawn tractors. You lose a lot of time turning around and not cutting.

    As for a license, here in Maryland you do not need one if you are just doing general yard maintenance. They only have them here if you are going to actually be doing "hard" landscaping such as gazebo's, rock walls, etc., or are going to be putting down pesticides. For mowing, mulching, etc., there is just not a license to be had. Keep in mind that every state is different.

    Good luck and be safe!
  5. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,183

    Let me help out here. If you call the court house they WILL tell you you don't need a license. You don't to mow in the county! You need to go to City Hall in every City you will be working in and purchase a license to do business in THAT City. That one is required and they will check from time to time.

    I would buy a mower that will grow with you. Don't buy a walk behind if you intend to grow your business to 50-75 accounts, that's a lot of walking. If you intend to keep a small customer base then get something that will fit your needs, if a walk behind will do that then go for it, they are cheaper.

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