First season in business with a lot of questions

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Timber492, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. Timber492

    Timber492 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Hello everyone,
    First of all; this is my first season in business and I'm going solo till I can get a better idea of what my overhead cost and bidding fee's should all be.

    to get to my question rather quickly; I'm running a 2005 20 horse white with a 42' mulching deck! I know, what am I thinking, but it's all I have and all I can afford right now. But the main problem that I have is that I just landed (call it beginners luck) the opportunity to get my first account which would be a commercial apartment complex with approx. 240,778 sq ft to mow, edge and blow.

    I have been crunching some of the numbers that I have been seeing everyone else talking about here. It seems like the .005 for this lot would be a lot of $$$$! But then again, I might not be realizing what this is really going to entail or involve to get done!

    Also, this account as far as I have figured out would take me solo to cut a whopping 16 hrs to just cut! Is this about right?

    I have been told that the crew that comes there now is a size of 5 and it takes them 5 hrs! But then I was told that they also cut 2 times a week!?? does mean that they are cutting it 2 complete times a week or are they doing some one day and the rest the next day?

    I know some of you are there are going to say that I really don't have any idea.....which I would have to agree! But in my own defense; I have a passion for what I do, and I know I have the drive and determination to get this business off to a good start! I'm just looking for some mentors or sounding blocks to work off of!

    Thanks everyone for baring with me!

  2. 2menandamower

    2menandamower LawnSite Member
    Posts: 247

    Hey man welcome to the world of lawn care and the new adventure ( it will for sure be that). First off if you get this contract at .05 per sf then you will for sure be in the money. Will that be the price to just mow, trim, edge, and blow??? Or will it also include mulch chems, shrub care etc??? I could do a property that size in about 5 hours by myself. Right now I have a 5 acre property that I do with one helper and we knock it out in about 4 hours. You can do it if you have the right equipment. Last year when I first landed this contract I used a Craftsman 42" mower. It took me about 10 hours to do. Then I got a 48" walkbehind in october '05 and time went to about 7.5 hours then this spring I got a 50" Dixon Z and the mow time is now about 4 hours. I know you said that is all you have and that is all you can afford but if you get this contract you could then afford the right equipment to do the job and then you cna keep the contract by keeping the lawn looking great. Good luck and if you want you can private message me or get me your phone number and I will help you out all that I can.
  3. wski4fun

    wski4fun LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 323

    That's only 15K sq. feet an hr. Should be less then 8hrs unless there are places to push mow or a lot of small difficult places to mow. Without seeing the property, I say somewhere around $850. Maybe more depending how difficult and how much edging.
  4. Timber492

    Timber492 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Thanks for writing and letting me know about all of the info. Actually the price that I seen someone else quote was .005 which looked like a 1/2 a cent a sq ft. and the total for the prop. to cut would be 1,203.89 per week to cut, trim and blow! iS THAT A LOT? Only because I'm new to this, that seems like a lot of $$$! Like i said, i'm new at this, and with all of the jobs that I've done over my years and never made that kind of money! you know?

    Also, thanks for the email! I really appreiciate it! I need all the help that I can get right now! Hopefully someday I can be the one helping someone else out to get started!
  5. Timber492

    Timber492 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Well, I did some figuaring and came up with the approx. estemate of my mower in my own yard only able to effectivly cut at the 1 mile an hour.

    My total cutting area for my own yard is 21k sq ft, and that takes me 1.5 hrs. But then that again, I have to deal with all of the kids crap that's left in the yard and dodge the potholes that the kid digs :angry:. So maybe thats why I can't average more per hr.
  6. Timber492

    Timber492 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Oh I almost forgot!

    The lawn at this complex looks like straw! Verry brown and coarse. I don't know what the hight of the lawn is right now, but I have to figure out what to do to get it looking better and being more thick. There are huge gaps between where they seeded when the built the complex, and to top it all off, the property has almost a clay base whitout any good topsoil. Is this something that can be repaired yet this season be letting it grow a little higher to get established? Or is this the wrong way to think?
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The price per square foot goes DOWN as the props increase in size, so yeah, 1200 is too high, $200 would be more like it at $40 / acre that's a price that can still be underbid. Someone out there will do it for 175 thou only a fool would do it for 125, the 200 price is solid and gives you some margin of error but...

    Is this all in one piece, or most of it anyway? What I mean is, is it all one big lot or is it some place divided up into 50 or so POS islands and what not, meaning this would certainly have an effect on price, but I don't know what the place looks like.

    As for me, I can't deal with cents / square foot, I do my calculations by 1/4 acres and sometimes by the 1/8 acre and later by the full acre.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    You will not like this answer but call back and say
    This is way to big of a property to learn on- It does not sound like you have the equipment or the manpower to do this. When bidding properties this size you need to already know all about YOUR business and the cost to run it. And also how long things take to do. Price per sq foot has very little to do with it. How easy is it to cut- trim and edge- obstacles- hills - trees - one long cut or lots of turns. You need to know how much it costs you to do business and than how long to produce the work.
    Not trying to rain on the parade but I believe you are over you head on this-- Grow slow - learn the trade- these jobs will always be there for you to get.
    Don't jump in to fast and ruin a reputation --- And DO NOT LOSE MONEY!!!!

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Your competition has a Z that cuts well at 10mph. and cut a 60" path at that speed. I reiterate my above post
  10. lawnmaniac883

    lawnmaniac883 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,613

    Is that alot? NO, not after your resi mower breaks down 5 times and you have to replace your resi trimmers and lets not even discuss the gas and maintenance that you will be shelling money out just for your equipment. It being an apartment complex they might want a full maintenance package. This means not only do you mow but you also trim their shrubs round up and mulch the flower beds as needed and apply fert you can sub out the fert.

    Dont go after this one it is not the kind of place you want to learn on. You need training wheels, this is a deep river. Go find some small residential places to mow until you know what you are doing. Once you get burned a few times go back to the apartment place and submit a bid.

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