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Considering The Lawn Care Industry

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by PLI1MIL, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. PLI1MIL

    PLI1MIL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    I am currently sitting at my desk in an office looking out the window, wishing I could be outside. Let me start by saying that for the past 8 years I have been chasing the corporate dream. I have done fairly well for myself however I hate what I do. When I was in High School I worked for a Landscape company. I loved it and actually ran a Lawn Maintenance crew for 2 years after High School. I have always wanted to own my own business. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on and researching the industry. However, the question that I can't seem to get an answer to is. Realistically, how much money can one expect to make in a season? I know for a fact in the area I live in that I could easily average 50.00 a lawn for mowing that doesn’t include all the other yearly services I would offer. If I could get 50 - 65 accounts my first year I think I could make a decent living.

    Does this sound off the wall or do able? I would greatly appreciate any insight positive or negative

  2. Let it Grow

    Let it Grow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 476

    It really does all depend on your area. I really don't think you could get 50-60 customers in one season. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it would be a huge challenge. If you can, then you are set because that would give you a decent income.
    My first year I grossed around 25-30k, but I didn't get started until late April. Now if you take all of my expenses away from that it doesn't leave much. But now this year my goal is to double that, and I think it is a reachable goal. I'd like to grow just a little more after this year, and I'll be where I want to be.
    Do you have a family? If so I would stick with my office job and maybe start doing some mowing on the side until you know whether it will work or not. BUT if I were you I would get out of that office as soon as possible. You only live once, and too many people live out their lives doing things that they hate. If this is your passion, then FIND A WAY TO DO IT! I totally believe that you will never be truly happy, and you will never reach your full potential until you wake up in the morning and think to yourself "Yes, I get to go to work now". There are some nights I can't go to sleep because I'm so anxious to get up and go to work in the morning.
    I hope this helps.
  3. LHise

    LHise LawnSite Member
    from Georgia
    Posts: 3

    I have been starring out of the same window for nineteen years, and looking for a career change. I am currently do my research and considering taking a course from the University of Georgia that is designed for the turf management industry. I have reached the point that my days start off with a down beat instead of an up beat. I have a friend who has done really well for himself in the turf bussiness. He quit a management job with Northrop twelve years ago to do his own thing. I think I am ready for the jump myself. Follow your heart.
  4. PLI1MIL

    PLI1MIL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5


    Thanks for your post. I agree with you I am going to start off part-time and see where it leads. It isn't going to happen this season but I am really getting my ducks in a row for next season. I really think 50 accounts in my first year is do able. I live in Norhtern VA about 45 miles west of Washington D.C.. It is a booming area. There new developments every where with decent lawns and big houses. It has to be a great feeling for you to be doing what you love.

    Thanks again for your reply.
  5. mjensen

    mjensen LawnSite Member
    Posts: 49


    I am in the same boat. I have been in the corp world now for 5 years before I worked at a .COM. Growing up around a lake always being outside really makes me work outside.

    I have started a small business that allows me to work only a couple fo days (mostly 1) on the weekends and get used to the idea. I have only purchased equipment that I could use if i descided not to do this full time. I only by the best or top quality equipment anyway so no hard feelings if it doesn't work out.

    I don't think 50 customer's is out of anyones reach but without the right equipment it would be very difficult. Spend some time working this year on the side before you jump head first into this business .

    I wish you the best of luck.
  6. lawnranger44

    lawnranger44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 370

    Fifty lawns in one year is a stretch i think. Make sure you do it right. You would need to use many marketing techniques. I would focus on getting twenty quality, high paying lawns before getting fifty so-so lawns. Just my opinion. Welcome to Lawnsite and good luck! Just so you know, you can ask ANY QUESTION you can think of on this site and it will be answered.
  7. celltech

    celltech LawnSite Member
    Posts: 34

    I to have my full time job and am starting the lawn care as a part-time job this year. I stopped by all the real estate companies today and gave out my cards. 3 out of the 5 looked at me like I was nuts!! The other to were interested and then very suprised that I had insurance...they really liked that!! Then I stopped by the rental angency that I rent my house from. They told me that they MIGHT have 60....yes six zero accounts for me. 60, what the heck am I going to do with sixty accounts on a part time basis. On top of that I am advertising and have picked up a couple of "my own" accounts. I am thinking about hiring someone just to handle the 60 accounts from the rental agency and then I will handle the accounts that I sign up. NO those are not 60 a week, some are, some bi-weekly, some monthly some at a little low paying, but is all or none. I know, I know, Bi-weekly and monthly are no good, but for my first season it might be worth it for some advertising (on the truck).
  8. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    50 accounts IS NOT DOABLE for a part timer. Be more realistic and try 10-15 as a part timer. Or, for all the full timers in your area take on 50 accounts and they will soon be getting the business that you can't handle and will be fired from for doing a poor job.
  9. mottster

    mottster LawnSite Member
    Posts: 191


    I know where you're coming from. I am currently running a mowing crew this usmmer...will be my first summer running a crew, but my second with this company. Before highschool got out last year I had my own little company goin...about 15 yards...nothin big...stuff i could do on a weekend and take $400 home a week for a lil extra dow.

    Love what i do, always have, always will. I just hate the bureaucratic bullshit that goes alone with it. Yeah, there are many jobs with more of it that you have to go through...but i tend to see that people who love mowing yards don't like sitting at desks filling out paperwork and applying for licenses and insurance and such. thats why i quit my own business, I had the opportunity to actually turn it into something...stop working out of the back of my s-10...get a trailer and the whole works...big step for me, then. But when i had the opportunity to go work for this company i took it. I'm glad i did. I have learned sooo much about the green industry and whats available to the contracter. But i'm starting to get the itch to mow on my own again...

    I've been going through some numbers to answer the same question you're asking right now.

    Now...i'd set my minimum price for $25. But lets say i get $30 for the average yard. i set up that i should be able to make $60 an hour if i can work nonstop...not taking into turns, drivetime, downtime, lunch, ect. That means that for the $30 yard it'll take my 30 minutes give or take 10 minutes. So...30 minutes for $30.....you're wanting 60 yards a week. thats 12 yards a day. 12 so 12 yards...30 minutes each....6 hours of mowing...add 10 minutes between each yard for drivetime, add 30 minutes for lunch...and you have like what...another 2.5 horus on there? So 8.5 hours a day between when you leave the door to when you return...gotta add more time...maybe an hour...for maintenance. 9.5 hours a day...12 yards...$30 each..$360. Oh yeah...add another 3 hours a day for calls, accounting, marketing, estimates....12.5 horus a DAY that you're putting into these 60 yards a week. So you make $360 gross in 12.5 hours of work nonstop...thats... $28.8 an hour...gross...take away insurance, equipment costs, maintenance, your daily lunch (if thats how you wanna work it) and don't forget uncle sam's taking and you're not gunna make much more then what you would as a crew leader for a local company.

    Ok ok...so thats enough money for you. do you wana spend half of your life on those yards?

    Let alone you want 60 $50 yards...thats a whole lot more time.

    I'm looking at 40 $35 yards idealy. 8 regulars a day...not bad at all...allows time for rain, estimates, and side jobs...maybe some landscaping here and there. I'm even getting into tree removal at work...aint nothin like cutting down a 40 foot oak tree thats standing 3 foot away from an all glass building...

    this'll keep me to hopefully 40 hours a week with 1.5x's what i'm makin now workin 60 hours a week at $9 an hour.

    I know i'm rambling...just how i put my thoughts down on paper.

    If i were you, i'd stick to maybe 15...20 pushing it of your $50 yards. That'll be about 20 hours a week that you're workin along with another part-time job. And do believe me that it takes a long time to get your name out into the community...i was in my own little company for a good 5 years before people started calling me.

    Good luck in your decision making.
  10. PLI1MIL

    PLI1MIL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    50 accounts IS NOT DOABLE for a part timer. Be more realistic and try 10-15 as a part timer. Or, for all the full timers in your area take on 50 accounts and they will soon be getting the business that you can't handle and will be fired from for doing a poor job.

    Lombardi Lawns & Landscaping

    First off I would like to say thanks for your input. I agree that 50 accounts for a part timer isn't doable. However, my situation and yours are different. I have the cash to buy any piece of equipment I desire, market and advertise myself any way I choose and hire people as needed. So managing 50 accounts and doing quality work wont be a problem. This is a business venture for me not a hobby. I plan on running a very large and successful business. Sure it isn't going to happen overnight and it is going to take a lot of work. The chances of me losing accounts to competitors is slim to none and doing poor work. However, the chances of me buying out my competition is better then me losing accounts to them. No hard feelings man I wouldn't expect anything less from a Packers fan.

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