Central Florida grass growth

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by brucec32, Jan 1, 2003.

  1. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I have a question for guys in Central Florida. I might one day move to the area where it's mostly old geezers and work part time at this again, just to stay busy in my semi-retirement, so I'm no serious competition!

    What is the growing season and rates for the typical St. Augustine/Bermuda down there? I noticed that the greens and fairways at courses in the Orlando were still green in December in photos I saw. I'd appreciate it if anyone could let me know how long you're still mowing and at what rates it's growing (full bore, mow every 2 weeks, once/month, etc) in the various seasons.
  2. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,956

    Come on down

    You are exactly what we need here in Florida. Another part time Cutter. Just be sure not to charge full price so you can get cash money. That way you don't have to buy insurance or pay taxes. In fact I'll bet you can get every house on your block if you price is low enough. Good Luck
  3. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    Can't stand the heat? Get out of the kitchen, guy.

    And give me a break. I'm a fully insured , licensed, tax paying 11 year lawn care veteran who has a bachelor's degree in business and am a PLCAA certified turfgrass manager and have a state pesticide license and applicator's cert, even though I no longer do that nasty stuff. I charge $52 for a hour's time on a lawn, minimum, which sounds on the high end of what I'm reading here. ($40/hr plus $12 just to drop the ramp as a trip charge...see? I even know how to price consistently! I guess my business degree came in handy after all. )

    I track my work on a spreadsheet and an accounting program and my average per-cut price is $34.88, doing mostly small tract housing subdivision lawns that require about a half-hour on-site. It's been almost 8 years since I lost a client due to a complaint, and have a manila folder full of unsolicited notes and cards thanking me for my good work and fair business practices. I'm that concientious about my work.

    So I don't need to lowball to compete. What's the matter? Afraid of a little competition?

    I say I'll be working "PART TIME" because my wife and I have already amassed a net worth that will allow us to retire to a better climate with our house and retirement fully paid for. We just need to make "fun money" . Does that sound to you like somebody who goes w/o liability insurance and accepts only cash? Should I work 50 hours a week making money I don't need and drop dead at 50 from exhaustion to become the "proper" type of competition for you?

    I have more business here than I can handle, turn more business away than I accept in the summer, and I only rarely even have to do minimal advertising. If you're so bothered by low-ballers, what does that say about what special advantage you have to offer customers? My customers have been shown the difference and I never worry about them. If yours drop you for a $20 mow by some guy who will leave them high and dry in July, what does that say about you?
  4. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    OK OK, you're legitamate, a pillar of our industry. We need more like youi here.

    I'm on the W. coast of C. FL in Hernando County, in a town called Spring Hill (known by insiders as "God's Waiting Room"). The place is lousy with old tightwads and lowball mow'n'blows. The last time I checked there were 1500 licensed lawn care providers in this county alone, Lord know's how many unlicensed there are. I include myself in the group of LC providers that I feel are actually legitimate and run their companies like an actual business, there's maybe 20 of us out of that 1500. So now that you know what you'll be competing against, I'll answer some of your questions. All of my customers are under a yearly contract which includes weekly mowing from April thru October then bi-weekly from November thru March. Sometimes, after a heavy frost the St.Augustine just dries up, more or less, and I just make an appearance and go through the motions to fullfil my contract obligations. With a little water it'll green up again by the time I'm due back. There are usually leaves to mulch up, as the leaves start falling in November and continue to trickle down through February, so even though there may not be much grass growth to cut, at least the lawns look better after I'm there than before. The golf courses overseed with rye grass to keep them looking green because they are mostly Bermuda grass that goes completely dormant in the winter. I overseed some of my St. Augustine lawns with rye and they look beautiful all winter long. As far as rates are concerned, you'd better sit down to hear this one. 10,000 SF lawns are the norm with some sub-divisions having 1/2 acre lots. The going rate is $12 to $15 per cut with some lowballers charging as little as $8 (gasp). That's the reality of this area. That doesn't mean that you can't get more, many of us can and do get more, but you've got to be a good salesman provideing a superior service on a regular basis. The way that I fill that nitch is by scheduleing my cuts and putting it in writing and being consistant over the years. I've haven't been off schedule by more than 1 day over the last 14 years. Yes, I cut in the rain.
    Oh, one other thing, I hope you can maintain your own equipment. Why? Because there are only 2 shops in this area that pretty much monopolize the business and hire $9 per hour mechanics. You'll be lucky to see the same one twice, they change their help like they change their underware (weekly?).
    So, in conclusion, if you can put up with the things we have to deal with in this area, come on down. Don't think that you'll change anything because you won't. If you can learn to adapt your business style to this area, provide consistant high quality work, and do all this with a questionable labor force, then come on down. Taxes are low, the sunshine is free and there's more work than you can imagine. But don't say I didn't tell you so.
  5. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,468

    ive cut weekly into january but just started servicing bi weekly as above my rates were out of wack but since cutting back on visits my rates are around 45/hr using a 36" plenty of winter work (mulch,scape etc)
  6. Turf Technologies

    Turf Technologies LawnSite Senior Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 590

    IM just a county North of Mowerman90, he pretty much right about everything. But here the average price per cut is 20 to 25$ for 1/4acre lawn. Its not bad because by yourself you can do 12 to 15 a day.IN winter time it slows to one a month to twice a month depending how the contract is setup.Theres plenty of lawns here, so no worries there.
  7. Dennis E.

    Dennis E. LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 349

    With all the rain we've had.
    Most all my accounts are set up for 2 services per month during our slow season. Some only get one.
    The commercial need cleaning up more than anything else.
    Contract basis so the money is still the same.
    The bahia is easy to take care of. Slow growth. Really slow if we have frost or a freeze.
    The Augustine still needs pretty regular mowing.I'm still cutting that at least twice per month.
  8. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    Basic Monthly Service: (42 Visits per Year)

    Growing Season ==> Late March through November: Mowing of all turf areas once a week, in varying patterns to minimize rutting, removal of 1/3 blade height

    Dormant Season ==> December through Early March: Mowing of all turf areas once every other week or as needed to maintain a neat overall appearance

    Welcome .... LOTS of Room for a Pro Service ..... Even part time .... true customer loyalty Does hold true ....the rates are lower ....but the cost of living is lower .... n no state income tax ....O town is $$ to live in compared to other areas

    There is (or should) be NO PER CUTS .... Monthly billing is the ONLY way to make it down here ..... the only per cuts we do are "intro" cuts to show a new client the work we do (also helps get a true time frame of the work n what to charge)

    But if you like to "think" per cut than if you have a job which you want or need $30 (believe me their small down here ....n lots of em on the same road ....our total work radius is less than 5 miles n we cut 270 weekly on resi's alone)

    So $30x42/12 =$105 monthly ..... you'll find average 1/4 to 1/3 Lot about $70-80 monthly for Basic mow n go ..... with bout 29 hours of Yearly work time for the $840-960 of Yearly income .... which is the way I like to think of things .... Yearly average or bout 2.3 hrs of monthly time for $70-80

    So it's little less than your $52 per hour ....not to say with time n customer built list with a tight route that is not possible ... cause it is ......I'd love to be chargin $2k per man work week or +$100K Yearly for each worker I have ....it's possible in land or hardscape n pest added ....but cutting only ... you might find $25-30 per hour more in real time to start .... n slowly build a solid list n charge more as one's schedule gets booked

    Either way with 11 years experience you'll have no problem getting work ....there are sooooo many wana b's down here ....see em every spring ....but come June ....that's what seperates the men from the boy's

    Good Luck in 2003 either way
  9. Ryan Lightning

    Ryan Lightning LawnSite Senior Member
    from CA
    Posts: 554

    Steve, when you guys do monthly, you only do the mowing? Are do you include all the fert., weedcontrol,bushes, and bed work?
  10. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    Basic Service is per each event ....litter removal, mowing of turf, edging of all cement areas and defined plant beds with a metal blade edger, weed eating of all standing grass not mowed & than blowing of all debris off and cement areas (front & back) cars, window or screening … this is basic …any more is extra $$

    We offer "Full" Services ....which are extra ....fore the most part all commercial work is Full service .... which we offer 3 packages

    Normal Service ==> Basic + Irrigation Checks & basic weed control (this can vary to more in-depth with additional hourly charges during growing season for hand pulling ....service is only offered with Yearly re-mulch Spring & Fall)

    Full Service ==> Normal + Hedging (6-4 times yearly) and ground cover trimming

    Full Service Gold ==> Full Service + Palm Trimming Spring Fall, Hard Prune of Hibiscus & Oleanders Each Spring & Crape Myrtle Hard Trim

    All "packages" are flexible to customer needs or desires ....with additional charges for any other needs ....such as excessive litter control, ornamental grass trimming, Mulch, Flower Bed Rotation, Fert & Pest Control, Tree Trimming ...we find most of these service customer like to receive a separate invoice when serviced

    On & on to what ever the customer needs which we offer as a service (which is almost anything organic outside of the building)

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