General Questions - New Business

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Bob_McNaughton, Jul 14, 2001.

  1. Bob_McNaughton

    Bob_McNaughton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 94

    Questions, but first, a brief history.

    I've recently been thinking of getting back into the lawn business. When I was 17 I did lawns for about 2 years, then decided to quit and goto college (I have a degree in business admin/marketing). I made decent money at 17 doing this, and loved it. But I only had a 48" Scag, not nearly enough for the massive lawns I ended up cutting. So it burned me out - plus, the scags never had a decent cut imho.

    Anyway, during college, over the summer I worked for a guy that had 2 crews out. Enjoyed it agian, like before. Then later when I was layed off from my firm, I went back to work for this same guy as a forman, and enjoyed it again and learned alot about running a solid lawn maintence company.

    For the last 3 years i've been working as a Store Manager for Radioshack. I'm burned out working "for the man". I don't mind the long hours so much, but the pay and the BS stress are what gets to me. This year, I will be lucky to top 30k in pay. Retail isn't a good business anymore, and 30k for 50-60hrs a week aren't cutting it.

    My wife is pretty high paid, and we have a good chunk of money saved up, so I have some flexibility to start a business, or do whatever I want.

    Thats my quick history in a nutshell. Now for my questions..

    1) Is the business still booming like it was years ago? Seems I was turning down customers do to high volumn, and the guy I worked for also turned down people alot.

    2) I'm in Michigan, so its a summer thing (plow in winter though). How is the income potential for a hustler with a good business head, strong work ethics, and high quality equipment? I'm working 50-60 hours a week at Radioshack, so long hours aren't strange to me.

    3) How do you figure pricing now? Back when I did it, we figured based on man hours. If a lawn takes one hour, we charged $50.00 or so. Is it the same now? What do people use as a benchmark for pricing nowadays?

    4) I live in one of the richest counties in the nation. However, the city I live in has small lawns. 10-15 minutes away are big lawns. Should I build a business around small 20 minute jobs, hoping to get dozens on the same street? Or should I go out a ways, and do the big daddy, high profit lawns? There are two very different business models depending on what I choose, and I am seeking advice for this.

    5) On the low end, figuring 60 customers a week at an average of $35.00 a cut, thats a solid $2100.00 a week in revenue. Is this accurate? Or am I pulling numbers out of my rear? Because 2100 a week is more than FOUR times my current pay at Radioshack. (but I work year around, and lawncare isn't). If I could match or just barely beat my 30k a year, i'd be a happy camper. Advice here please.

    6) Equipment.. I have nothing right now.. I need to buy a truck, and all the gear. So my question is, do I go out and get a lazer 60", and have that as my sole mower? Or should I at least invest in a 48" to cover the small lawns and as a backup? Advice here as well please.

    Thats about it for now. I don't think i'll be doing anything until next spring, as summer is half over, and i'd hate to spend money on the business only to not have customers and have winter encroaching on me. Is this a smart thing to do? Wait, plan and save till spring? Certainly another 6 months or so of saving money would be sweet, as well as giving me more time to plan the business, draft advertising, etc. Any advice here?

    Thanks for any help guys/gals.

  2. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Posts: 4,831

    Welcome to Lawnsite. Others in your area can probably help you with the numbers better, but your numbers sound close.

    I taget larger lawns and us two 60" Choppers to mow with. If you get both large and small, you might want a w/b for the small lawns. Even when I did do small lawns, I used my 60", but I would only do the ones I could get the 60" in the back yards.

    I just have one suggestion. Since you are in Mich. you could plow snow in the winter. Since you need a truck for the lawns, get one to plow with at the same time, get a 4x4 and put a plow on it. Now is the perfect time to get into this and then target those accounts for lawns next spring also.

    Here is a search on the word Start, sort through them and you will find some on starting up a biz.

    Good luck :)
  3. accuratelawn

    accuratelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 922

    I f I were to start over again, I would purchase a 36" Hydro wb and a 60" Lazer. No bagging and no small gates that a 36 would not go thru.
    As Eric said, buy a 4x4 and start looking for accounts now, both lawn and plow.
    I started part time in July 97 while working one of those 50+ hour per week jobs.
    Good luck!
  4. kturner

    kturner LawnSite Member
    Posts: 53

    Is the $2100 under the table?

    - 350 truck payment
    - 200 equipment payments
    - 200 gas
    - 200 truck insurance
    - 100 fertilizer/small replacement pieces
    - 60 business insurance
    - I know others could add a lot to this list, but let's be miserly.

    7290 netted...until tax time. They'll take 2405.70.

    That leaves you 4884.30 per month, assuming you get all your customers right away with no advertising.

    All my numbers are way off, but just didn't want you to forget the fun stuff.
  5. cp

    cp LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 263

    I'm fresh off the starting blocks as a new LCO and I can tell you that everything that has been said and some that has not is right on the money. I'm in Virginia so the snow thing is very iffy at best, some years we're hit hard, others no snow to talk about.

    That said I would recommend that you plan initially to cover everything from postage stamp size up to the "Eric's Specials", very nice properties, and as your business expands and you find your niche and expand in that area.

    I had very good advice both from and my dealer on the type of equipment to buy and what to live without just getting started. Use this forum and also talk with your local dealers to determine your startup requirements. I started with a 60" Lazer and a 36" wb and the usual hand tools, Blower, Trimmer, Edger, etc. I hardly ever use my wb but I have needed it for hills and such.

    And lastly, if you can afford it, buy good new equipment. You need equipment that will perform and have warranty support if needed.

    I hope you have as good luck as I have had..Chris..
  6. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 822

    What part of Mi are you in?

    This could help
  7. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ma
    Posts: 994

    Place some flyers out now and try getting into the business partime first. You will be working some serious hours, but maybe a neighborhood kid could help you out with some of the jobs.
  8. Bob_McNaughton

    Bob_McNaughton LawnSite Member
    Posts: 94

    Im in Royal Oak Michigan.

    I have no interest in starting part-time. As I said, I did it part-time a long time ago. (when I was 17) Made good money, but was lacking anything more than a 48", which was too small for my big jobs, and I got burned out after two years. Plus, i've been a forman for a successful guy in the business a few years ago.

    I intend on investing in all the required equipment upfront, and haven't decided yet. Leaning to a Lazer60 and a Exmark 36". Also I need to purchase a truck and trailer, which I will do this winter.

    I plan to be geared up, and ready to roll this spring, and with my marketing/business degree, and lotsa practical business experiance, I intend a heavy, and intense advertising blitz to secure a good amount of clients from the start.
  9. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    Don't mean to be sarcastic, but is it possible to start out with enough customers to be full time? If so, let me know how, so i can jump from 20 to 50 next spring!
  10. GreenStar

    GreenStar Banned
    Posts: 114


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