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For the New Guys

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by SunSwept, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. SunSwept

    SunSwept LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93

    As someone just completing their second year of lawn cutting (weekends only) I would like to offer a few of my thoughts to that question that we see all of the time: “What advice can you give me …”

    1) Always remember that you can be replaced by several goats. And they are not nearly as full of $h1t as some of the fellows here on Lawnsite.

    2) Always work on Saturdays but don’t fill your schedule. I am always amazed that people will walk up to me and ask me to do their lawns … once or all summer. If/When I go at this fulltime I will take Sunday and Monday off if I need to. ALSO, make a little noise loading up and drive away slowly. I have had housewives chase after me to ask me to please cut before their big party that night.

    3) Forget about contracts. I will mow when they want and as often as they want. If they don’t want it cut then that is fine, just call me and tell me. One exception: If I show up in front of the house then they get charged for it even if I don’t cut. Not everyone believes in this – they prefer contracts -- and that is OK.

    4) I started with a 21 inch cut, 5.5 horsepower Murray that was 12 years old. Sometimes I thought that I wouldn’t make it past the 3rd lawn of the day. Then I got a 48 inch John Deere from Home Depot. Much better. Some of the guys on here might try to make you feel inferior by telling you that they have ExMark and Dixie Choppers. Remember that their blades go round and round just the same as yours do! You’ll eventually get there if you keep it up. That being said … THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A ZTR!

    5) (Has nothing to do with cutting grass) Three ways to spell it and each has a different meaning: They’re, There and Their. Cutting grass has nothing to do with literacy. Just read a few of the posts and replies. NOT MEANT AS AN INSULT … it is a fact. Knowing the ways of nature and being good at it is not one of those things taught in high schools and colleges.

    6) Saying and Doing are two different things. Many posts and replies “talk” big but when it gets right down to it, the customer is most always right. Especially if they are paying for it. ESPECIALLY if you take the money.

    7) Blow off the neighbor’s driveway if it is right there. I can’t tell you the number of tomatoes and cucumbers and bags of green beans and ears of corn that I have gotten from these newfound friends. A few even asked me to cut while they were away for the summer. And it only took about 2 minutes of my time. What would you rather have them thinking as you pull up? There’s that jerk again going to make a lot of noise for the next hour OR Oh, good … he’s going to blow off my driveway when he’s finished.

    8) There really is no good way to trim shrubs. It’s always a pain, even if you use a tarp to catch the trimmings, and I hate doing it.

    9) Customers love the way the yard looks when you cut on a diagonal. You can almost do a bad job and they still like it because they don’t do it that way. It looks different to them and, therefore, it must be good.

    10) It should be against the law but it isn’t. They pay me to put down fertilizer to make the grass grow so that they can pay me again to cut it. In other words … a $12 bag of dry fertilizer goes a lot further than you might think.

    Just a few random thoughts. No insults intended … well, maybe one. Maybe. Feel free to add a few of your own.
    pcnservices likes this.
  2. steve122

    steve122 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 208

    For a new guy I think you have stated many truths. I like the one about the blades go round and round, no matter what the brand. I agre witt u thet kuting grasss has nuthin too dew witt littericy (are whatevir u sayd).
  3. pcnservices

    pcnservices LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 614

    Very interesting and very true Wayne!
  4. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,757

    Wayne, I like your style! Neill
  5. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Not to offend....but this was spoken like a 'guy who just cuts grass on the weekends.'

    Lets dissect this:

    1. If you can differentiate yourself from the goats, you will succeed. If not, you will be stuck mowing lawns on the weekends.

    2. I would like to talk to you again after you have 130 accounts, and it just rained for 5 days. Do you think you could still take Sundays and Mondays off???

    3. Once again, this is nice and easy with a few lawns. Wait until you are trying to remember who called you what week to cancel a service. If you leave this option open, customers will definitely abuse it. Trust me.

    4. I agree

    5.Literacy has nothing to do with mowing lawns, but it does have something to do with dealing with customers and running a business. Once again you reference just 'cutting grass.' There is a difference.

    6. I couldn't disagree with you more. My clients pay me to manage their property in a way no one else can. If they are wrong, I tell them. If they are right, I tell them too. I wont be doing them a service as a 'yes man.'

    7. Blow off the neighbors driveway??? If I make a mess, yes. If I don't, no. 30 driveways at 2 minutes each each day adds up. I can do without the tomatoes.

    8,9,10 I agree.

    This is just a few thought from someone who has been in business for 21 years.

    Do you have another job?? If not, I can almost bet your views would change if 'cutting grass' was your only income.
  6. SunSwept

    SunSwept LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93



    I will take it to heart and learn from it. But, as you mentioned, there is a big difference in working this fulltime versus weekends. Thanks for your input. I will definitely be thinking it over. When it comes time for me to make the transition to fulltime then I will apply what I have learned from you and others.

    Again, feel free to post comments/observations of your own.

    (In my other life I am a computer programmer and have been doing it for 20 plus years.)
  7. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    HA ..... I can see this from both sides .... I can't do the weekend warrior stuff anymore ...... the post is a good pitch from the part timers side ..... as I can remember how that was some years ago .... almost miss it .... we'll not really

    BUT I am behind bout 85 jobs BEHIND right now .... n it's only Monday .... no work since Thursday .... OW

    Back too it Tuesday ....n than some

    Bad Charley .... Bad Frances .... GO AWAY Ivan
  8. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,372

    Yep, 16 years here. The only way to make money is to get a contracted price, where you get paid if it rains that week or not, you still get paid.

    Can't pay the house payment, truck payment, mower payment, whatever expenses if you get some sort of drought and have no income for 4 weeks, or even if you only do 1/2 your accounts.

    KenH, you're pretty much dead on, guess I shouldn't have tried to complete that one last project tonight, cause now you beat me to the punch. :)
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    sun, your "words of wisdom" will keep you a weekend warrior forever. i agree with #5, and only #5.
  10. CapnDean

    CapnDean LawnSite Member
    Posts: 78

    Sunswept: I fared well with your philosophy too.

    My charter fishing operation grew so fast - - I did several things that other operators scoffed at: Such as:

    Cancelling a 3-day fishing trip when the weather was bad, letting the guys sleep on the boat for 3 days for free. (Heck, they came in from God knows where expecting 3 days on a boat, so what if it's in the harbor & they are at the casino). I thought this better than taking their money when I knew and they knew that there was going to be NO fishing.

    A 3 day trip for 6 guys went for $3000. If we truly had a bad trip (very few fish) The next trip was 1/2 price. And sometimes that was a year or two later.

    Oh yeah....I have also stayed the 4th day for nothing extra - - Just had to fry up some of their catch for dinner.

    Sure I have mailed back their favorite reel that they left behind, Taken them and their wife for a harbor cruise so that the kids could see the boat etc...

    Hey all this is time, and time is money right? But goodwill is good business.

    Never accepted a nickel for towing in a broken down 20 footer either.

    I am with ya man....

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