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Flop or Fly!!!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TNDuck, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. TNDuck

    TNDuck LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    I need some serious help guys! Its either flop or fly with me! I have kind of been forced into the business and still have a full time job, but my job is pretty flexible. I have been given about 7-9 apartment complexes that look like they will take between 3-9 hours as they vary is size and mowable area. Sounds great but I am brand spankin new! I have purchased a dual axle split ramp 16 foot trailer with trimmer and equipment holders, two good trimmers, a Hustler 52" I am picking up tomorrow, and I have two push mowers and a old riding 42" mower. I still need a back pack blower and what else?? I need some serious input here guys! I have a great guy that I can trust that is going to work full time all summer while he is out of school and I am at work. I'll get off at 4pm and still have 3-4 hours each day to help him plus all day on saturday and sunday afternoons. I will have to take care of it for about a month until he gets out of school with him helping me in the afternoon and on the weekends. I lucked into the contracts because of contacts through what I do for a living (survey/engineering) and some good friends. Is that enough equipment? Will one full time guy be able to handle 9 apartment complexes woth units from 100-200?? Any suggestions?
  2. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 777

    It is really hard to say without seeing the properties. I assume these are small apartments.

    I had one complex that was 9.5 acres of the worst mowing conditions in the world ranging from 80 degree banks, sink holes, toys, junk, people, jellow jackets all surrounded by at 6" tall chain link fence that had to be trimmed on bother sides. That took me anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to complete depending on the time of year, the whether etc. These are man hours not straight time. I could do it myself on a really goodday in 12 hours in the fall when there had not been much growth and the temp was cool, adding employees increases the number of man hours.
  3. lawnlubber

    lawnlubber LawnSite Member
    Posts: 186

    Did you really sign contracts to do this work knowing this little about the properties or the business? Realize that a contract works both ways. Yes they will be required to pay, but only after you fulfilled your end and given them some professional work. If it turns out you can't produce not only don't you get paid you may be liable for damages. It would be better to get the experience elsewhere before signing up for something this big.
  4. Grass Gator

    Grass Gator LawnSite Member
    Posts: 122

    How did you score this many complexes!!????
  5. TNDuck

    TNDuck LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    I scored the complexes through my job and contacts made in the community, Yes I looked over each complex and used cost calculators I found on these websites based on cost per equipment and man hour and feel them to be fair prices. I am not scared of the work and really ready to get started just want to make sure I do it right and please the property owner.
  6. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,232

    Hope you estimated the amount of time it will take you correctly, my first year I was way off on a few places. But if you say you can keep one guy busy full time and you help out a few hours a week then I guess thats very possible, you figured about the time it will take so I guess you answered your own question. Now if you figured it will take 100 hrs a week, then I would say your stretching it a bit for one guy :) Do you have a plan B when it rains 3 or 4 days in a week?
  7. lawnlubber

    lawnlubber LawnSite Member
    Posts: 186

    I don't want to discourage you from starting a business, but this does not sound well thought out. Is your guy going back to school next fall? I've used student workers and it sucks because they are not available when I need them most, in the spring and fall when days are shorter and there are a lot of extras to get done. It doesn't sound like you have a good handle on the size or even how many properties for sure how can you give bids, make a business plan, or even buy equipment until you've got a clear idea of the sizes and locations. You landed the jobs so your a proven salesman. You can market your business. But an LCO wears many other hats. You will need to be an accountant, a mechanic, a supervisor, not to mention a lawn jockey if you need to hire all that out it will eat up all the profits maybe more. Lack of experience will probably make you slower than the next guy your estimates for how much time you need may not be valid. If you are really determined to do this, at least see if you can mow it once first. To make sure your equipment will work right and your prices are going to be OK for you. BTW you didn't mention whether the contract covers anything besides mowing. There are usually a lot of profitable "extras" that will need to be done.
  8. TNDuck

    TNDuck LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Thanks for the feedback guys and to answer a few concerns:

    * I know exactly what properties I have
    * I walked each property before quoting and then doubled my estimated man-hours
    * The guy IS going back to school in the fall and this is a major concern of mine, I hope to find someone else during the summer.
    * Contracts are mow, trim and blow, all extras will be add ons
    * Paperwork and all accounting will be handled by my stay at home wifey, she will also schedule the help and handle misc.
  9. TNDuck

    TNDuck LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    well, well, well, it seems like it was all too good to be true, this is the main company I WAS going to get some contracts for, please beware, http://www.wtvt.com/investreptr/trailoftrouble.html
    looks like I will be starting small now with a couple of houses and a Townhome association, propbably a lot better for me anyway, unless I can talk this guy into prepay, any of you do prepay for high risk customers?
  10. tjgray

    tjgray LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 294

    I doubt very seriously you will get this criminal to pay you up front :(

    AND I definitely wouldn't do any work for him unless he paid up front and then I am not even sure I would...... :angry:

    Be thankful to Fox13 Investigates and for the fact that you investigated a bit before starting the jobs :)

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