Can one guy make it work?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by LawnFreak08, May 29, 2008.

  1. LawnFreak08

    LawnFreak08 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Ok,...so I currently work in the Architectrual field, which I really like. I don't like however, working on the dirty side of the business with the legalities, and the 1 million responsibilities, etc. So, I'm always thinking of business ideas and how to make money a better way, with potential for the future. My wife is the bread winner (don't laugh) and makes a great living, leaving me with an oppourtunity to take a risk.

    I've always been crazy into my lawn and landscpaping and have been reasearching trying to make a living out of it. I'm trying to look at all sides and aspects to it to see if it would be worth giving it a shot. I have a lot of resources for getting accounts, and have a good idea for making money in the off season and rainny days. I have big ideas for eventually expanding into providing more services then just lawncare like small landscape design, concrete curbing, irrigation, etc. My thought is to possibly contract out for the services I can't provide on my own. General Contracting items such as decks, patios and concrete stamping, etc. is my idea for a full service landscaping company. Again with the resources I have, this is very possible. I'm not sure that there would be enough money in small residential projects though to make the "general contracting" idea work and make money on my end.

    For now, the lawncare idea is where to start. My questions is if in the end if it works out for the one-man show guy with costs. I'm thinking of aside from equipment, is it possible to have a small enough amount of accounts managable enough for one guy, yet still make a good profit? My worry is that I'll have accounts all around town, and after getting to them all, with gas where it is, etc., it might just not be worth it. With all of the small companies out there, you guys obviously make it work. But I'm curious of the percentage that find it hard to turn a profit without killing yourself, and end up giving up.

    Also, I was wondering how many of you started out with only yourself and a mower, and now only manage things, or do the grunt work very little? Would I be killing myself just to break even? See many crash and burns with guys starting out? Any thoughts?
     
  2. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Right now I'm still in the beginning stages. My second year into this and I've had to start over twice due to moving and another family problem.

    Its hard. Its not that its impossible, but the work is hard. I love it. I love taking care of my customer's lawns and getting paid for it. I love being outside.

    I've noticed however, both times that I've gotten around 40 customer, it gets pretty stressful.

    I've seen threads from other guys saying that they have 500 accounts and all they do is manage and it is nothing but stress for them. Dealing with customers and employees and all that stuff. But hey, what business owner isnt stressed out? I've never met one that doesn't always have something on their plate, green industry or not.

    The question you need to ask yourself is how serious are you about getting into it? You arent going to be able to get 50 accounts and manage your own business and not do the grunt work. Its gonna take some years. Gas prices are high but profit is still there, you just need to calculate everything into the equation.

    You can always toy around with it, get about 10 customers and take care of them one day out of the week and see how you like it. It doesnt take much to get started in this business, but it takes a lot of hard work to keep it going.
     
  3. marathonmow

    marathonmow LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    There are a bunch of us that are going it alone. It is very doable. Start small and have patience.
     
  4. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Yes, I forgot that part. Start small and slowly. Dont get over-excited and try to take on too much at once. You'll drive yourself nuts!
     
  5. LawnFreak08

    LawnFreak08 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Yah, good advice. It's totally my thing and I could see getting very serious about it. I do realize it would take a long time of hard work to see where it would and could go. You defintely need to love it I'd say. The idea sounds great to me, but I'm afraid the first 100+ degree day rolls around, and I'll be beggin' for my desk job back. But being outside would be great too. Hmmm.

    With my design background, I really wanted to incorporate small landscaping into it. I have a program that allows me to lay out planting area designs, etc. I'd love to complete a well designed yard then maintain it. The down side is I'd have to be the one diggin' the holes, and spreading mulch. If there was only a way to design landscape, and have the guys somehow to make it happen with me as foreman.

    I just got gas an it was $4.19 for premium, yikes! The driving from yard to yard is what concerns me.....
     
  6. marathonmow

    marathonmow LawnSite Member
    Posts: 20

    I see all these guys showing off the big rigs, and I suppose they need them for all the machines they carry. My goal is to keep the smallest truck with everything in the back. As you can tell, I don't have any ztr machines, but I'm okay with that.
     
  7. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    From what I've seen, landscaping is where the money is at. Mowing residential lawns brings in less of a profit margin but you can get more accounts. More work for the money. I dont really notice it, I still turn a good profit at the end of the month.

    For me, I dont like working for anyone else. Granted, I'm working for the customer, but I set my own hours, work when I want and I get a long vacation in the winter :)

    I dont think I could ever go back to doing anything else.
     
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    There's a bit of a dirty side to this job, too... ;)
     
  9. LawnFreak08

    LawnFreak08 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Yah. The problem with doing more landscaping type things, is there's no way to do that on your own, you'd have to hire for sure. I doubt anyone could work fast enough to make it worth your while. In that sense, lawncare seems more profitable.
     
  10. LawnFreak08

    LawnFreak08 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Yes, "dirty side" ofcourse, but I'm guessing not like this type of dirty. When it comes down to your company paying thousands for a line on a peice of paper you drew, for a mistake that isn't even a mistake. It's just crazy. It's all about finger pointing. Arguing with Contractors on a daily basis and owners who don't wanna pay extra for an extra nail is just not my idea of fun. Working for yourself has to be better.
     

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