haven't got started yet..need help

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by pbillings, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Hi. My name is Paul. I am a Police Officer now and have had it with the politics and the B.S. that goes along with nowdays Departments...Anyway, I have always enjoyed working outside on lawns since I was 12 years old and had a k-mart pushmower and had approx. 8 to 10 yards a week. I've been kicking the idea of a lawncare business for years. Now, I think i finally am gonna do it in late winter early spring. My wife thinks it's a good idea also. I am just scared to death to give up my career and fail. I just need help on how to start it. Where to get low priced equipment (for now). How to get ccustomers. Etc. I've spoke with many lawncare owners and what they tell me sounds good and I know there wouldn't be a problem with the work. It's just getting started that worries me.....I would appreciate any ideas or comments on this matter.........
  2. Green Care

    Green Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 530

    Welcome to forum Paul I would go as a partimer first to see how things workout.

    For equipment check the paper lawnsite ebay and others.
  3. boxoffire

    boxoffire LawnSite Member
    Posts: 169

    Hi Paul, I'm Adam and I'm kicking the idea around also. So much so that I've gone and gotten a license and just called about liability insurance. I made about 400 flyers for fall leaf and debris cleanup and have been selectively throwing them in people's drivesays in freezer baggies with small rock inside to keep them from blowing away. Just met a nice guy to make me some magnetic signs for my jeep and trailer. I only have a JD tractor and push mower and weed eater/blower with assorted yard tools right now, but I think enough to get started. Problem is it's kinda late in season now, but maybe it's better that way. Start slow and learn! Luckily I have that luxary staying with me mom and taking care of her some after her heart surgery. Anyway, people have told me starting out is scary because you may not get many customers early on and will take some time to build them up because you have to get your name out there and network a bit. I've thought about a yellow page ad for next spring but I need to decide by mid October because that's the deadline around here for getting one in on time. Saleslady told me a one liner with name/number is a big waste of money and reccommends I buy a larger ad for obviously larger amounts of money. Can't justify it just yet and is making it a tough call on me. Think I'll call some 1 liners from the yellow pages and ask if it's made any difference for them. I made some business cards on my home computer with supplies from office max. I already had a printer. Also made the flyers myself and saved money there too. I have 0, no clients as of yet. I too think I want to work outside since I've been inside dealing with the politics too for almost 20 years. Don't know if it would be the smartest thing for me to do since I'm not getting any younger these days, but I feel it's now or never. Think I could hang doing it for 10 - 15 years. I think I'd like to target a little commercial and a little bit residential. If I could just get a couple of businesses with a 2-4 acre spread for annual contract, I'd buy me a zero turn wide cutting mower and go for it. I don't think I want the apartment type properties with the hilly terrains and narrow landscape areas to cut to have to use the big walk behind mowers for some reason. Maybe when I was younger, but just doesn't appeal to me as much. But if I'm serious enough, I'd probably take one of those if I got it. Seems like the larger landscape/maintenance companies are getting those however. Churches appeal to me too but they too have somebody doing them obviously. I don't know, I'm trying to put my brain into action to figure something out with help out here from time to time, but haven't really yet. I did think of a friend of my brothers the other day that he once told me own over 40 houses he rents out and thought maybe I should give him a call and see where they are, if he hires people to mow them, and if so, tell him I may want a shot at some of them come next spring for the entire season. Don't know if you are allowed to go door to door around here, but the idea kinda makes me uneasy. I'm not outgoing like some, though my girlfriend says I'm very easy going and easy to talk to and shouldn't scare people when they see me at their door. LOL.... I even feel kinda squimish throwing my flyers in people's driveways. Makes me feel invasive. Ok I've rambled enough I'm sure. I know you wanted info to help you moreso from the experienced guys, just thought I'd share my thoughts too. I did pick up a great used blower (Redmax) from a friend who bought out a dude's equipment getting out of the business. He got all kinds of stuff: trialer, blowers, weeders, hedge trimmers, at a great price. I read out here that Redmax was a good brand and he didn't know any better when I asked if I could get that one from him instead of the echo and stihl he had so I got a steal on it for $35. It is an older EB431 series but man it blows like a hurricane. Look in your paper for guys selling out maybe. Another buddy of mine already in the business goes to flea markets sometimes and last weeks or so he got a pair of Oakley sunglasses for $5 (that's 5 dollars). They were like new. Also got some of those Bose noise reduction headphones for like $20 (think they are about $299 new). Ebay sometimes is good to steal some good stuff cheap. Good luck!
  4. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    Hi Paul, and welcome to Lawnsite. A quick business point - make sure you know your cost of doing business, i.e., take all your fixed costs such as cost of equipment, depreciation, advertising, etc., add your variable costs such as fuel, maintanence, labor, etc., convert to an hourly cost, and add in your desired profit. Now you have an idea of how much you need to charge to make money on this venture. Once you have that, find out what competitors in your area are charging, and tweak your charges accordingly - as long as you are mowing for less than your hourly "minimum".
    As for mowers, most on here would recommend that you bypass homeowner's equipment completely and instead go for used commercial - if you can't afford, or don't want to spend for new. A good used walkbehind shouldn't be too expensive.
    Good luck with your business Paul
  5. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Hello greencare. I know your right about starting parttime. But, The problem I have is the hours I work at the copshop. It will not allow any time for other work and If I did start parttime I would have to quit my current job now.. I'm kind of between a rock and a hard place.. I've got to stay serious about this. I have been online, reading newspapers and talking with many other lawncare owners. They too offer advise about starting parttime.. I have to go full bore. I don't really have a choice...I plan to start putting out my feelers and talking to customers I will have from other lawncare guys who have too much to handle and they say they will give me a few to start and will see what happens....I do have a wife with a great job and excellent health beni's which will help out emencely...I live in Missouri. I don't know much about cutting trees but I do know how to mow grass.....What is a good time to try to advertise? Thanx
  6. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Hey Adam....It sounds like your about at the same thoughts as me. You have gotten a little farther than I. I'm still in the "kick the tires" stage. But, I'm dead serious about the business. I am trying to get pointers still and I've gotten alot on this website. What I'm afraid of is quitting my current job and taking the chance. I'm trying to figure out what would be the best time to advertise, now or mid winter? I haven't got one piece of equipment yet. I have a friend in the business that will help. Thanx for answering................. Paul
  7. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Thanx for replying Randy J.,,,,,,,,,, I'll have to have my wife figure all the mathmatical aspects out. I see we're in the same type of area.............How and when do you think I should advertise and put out flyers or whatever? I haven't got equipment yet and was thinking of purchasing equipment this winter? What do you think?

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981


    The nice thing about flyers is, they don't cost much, so if you don't get any responses you didn't lose much. From my experience, its a waste to put any out in the dead of winter (unless you're advertising for snow removal). By late Feb/early March, people start thinking about mulch and spring clean-ups, especially if you're lucky and the weathers a bit warmer than usual.

    I would go and check out equipment at your local dealers. If at all possible, do try to stay away from the homeowner stuff. Also, at most (if not all) dealers, you can get financing for equipment purchases. Good if you don't have 5 grand lying around.

    I'm just curious why you can't work another job, there are a lot of cops I've met that do this on the side.

    Best of luck
  9. pbillings

    pbillings LawnSite Member
    Posts: 50

    Thanx for responding Hoolie.......The reason I cannot work parttime while at my present job is, right now we are on a 12 hr. a day, everyday, 5 and 6 days a week. The dept. I work for is falling apart. We are losing guys left and right. It only leaves 2 days a week off which switches every week. The chief can't figure out why guys are leaving. It's not hard to figure that evrybody there is burned out..I too know cops that work parttime jobs. Where I'm at, it couldn't be done. It would make lawn customers mad because I wouldn't have any idea when I could mow their grass with my days off ( if I get a day off). It switches week to week....I'm just spinning my wheels there. I haven't got a raise in 2 years.........Anyway, enough of the sob story. I'm ready to make money on my own terms, and I would have nobody else to blame but myself if it didn't work out.
  10. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 2,412

    If I were you, I would wait until late February/early march to quit your job and hit the advertising HARD. Get a nice sized yellow page ad and distribute tons of door hangers. I would not get just a one line setup in the yellow pages, a dollar bill sized ad will be much more sufficient.

    Make sure you have equipment before you hit the advertising though. Also, with the yellow pages youÂ’re going to get calls from a large area.

    Once you hit the advertising hard, the phone should be ringing off the hook.

    Good Luck.

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