How much can one man profit?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by lawn guy 300, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. LawnTamer

    LawnTamer LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,988

    So far some of the advice I've seen is spot on, some is not.

    50 lawns/week, small lots 1/8-1/4 acre would be a cakewalk, assuming you know what you are doing and have the right equipment. Most of my lawns are on 1/4-1/2 acre lots, take out the house, drive, beds, etc, and my average lawn size is about 6,500 sq '. I can do 20 of these lawns in a day using a 36" walk behind with a sulky.

    Here are the problems with your original post, from my experience.

    1- A 30 mile radius is too big. No one pays you for sitting behind a windshield. Gas, and other vehicle costs would eat you up.

    2- In my area at least, there is no way you will average $35-45 for lawns that small. I average about $30/lawn, and I charge more than 80% of my competitors.

    3- If you are just looking at business ideas, and don't have experience mowing, look elsewhere. Mowing has a low profit margin compared to other service based industries. It is much harder to make a decent profit mowing than it is to scoop dog poop. It is labor intensive and requires good commercial equipment.

    Case in point-
    While I was out doing some fertilizing work. I happened to see a mowing crew pull up to a home. I fertilize this lawn, and happen to know how much they pay for mowing, $27. Three guys get out, drop the tailgate on a 16' trailer with $12-15K in equipment and go to work mowing, trimming and edging. While they are working, a guy pulls up at another fert client's home. Just one guy in a well marked small pick up. Grabs a bucket and a little shovel contraption, and goes to work picking up the dog poop. He is gone and off to the next job in less than 5 minutes, while the mowing crew is perhaps half way done. The house he'd just pulled away from was my next stop, so I asked the homeowner how much he paid for the service. $10/week per dog, 2 dogs, so $20. This guy finished another job just up the street before the mowing crew finished.

    Soooo, the mowing crew (3 guys, big truck, $12-15k in equipment) gross $27, in the same time that the poop-scoop guy grosses $40 with a compact truck, a $20 scooper and a Home depot bucket. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

    Seriously though. I am pretty fast at mowing and trimming. I work quickly and try to be very efficient, tight routes etc. My best mowing days, I gross about $600. If I am doing spray/fert work, I can gross that in 3 hrs. When all is said and done, I net about double doing fert/spray work as I do mowing.
     
  2. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

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  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,083

    All depends upon your level of ability, scope of service offered and how efficiently you operate.

    Since I don't do mow and blows I can't comment upon this aspect but I offer complete grounds maintenance (irrigation, pesticide apps, arbory services, liquid only fert, etc). Currently I am operating at about a 24% net profit margin after all costs are figured. On mow and blows, at an economy of scale operation you are attempting, a well run company may net as much as 14% but industry average is around 7% which is why I don't just mow and blow.
    At such a low profit margin it is difficult to run a business wide open day in and out.
    Route scheduling becomes problematic, service interruption due to weather, etc often means the clients you miss that day drop you for someone else.
    Also, with such a tight route you miss on all the "extras" a full service company capitalizes on so bear this mind too.
    I found tight routing meant I couldn't respond quickly enough with all I do so now I have adopted a "loose" approach meaning the crew goes out equipped for all those little extra jobs the clients always ask for so my profit benefits accordingly.
    Diversification of services is the only continual, less stressful way to increase profits in such a bad economy we find ourselves in these days.
     
  4. OrganicsMaine

    OrganicsMaine LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 553

    I agree that if the total lot is 1/8-1/4 acre and then you subtract non turf areas, now you are flying through them, even alone. My numbers were based on a turf area of 1/8-1/4 acre, which is probably on the low side of average where I live. You do need to invest a lot in equipment to handle the lawns efficiently here. You are talking about a minimum of 2 48" Wb's and a 2 man crew to handle these. Plus there are the spring and fall clean ups, mulching etc. So it does make sense to me to have two ride ons....at least on being a front mount....and a 2 man crew to take care of 80 accounts per week. The average here would be $40/stop, and with a tight route you are talking about no more than 80 mhrs per week. So while not as profitable as the fert and squirt side of the business, still a decent profit that always leads to more work....including fert and squirt if you want it.
     
  5. lawn guy 300

    lawn guy 300 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 65

    Posted via Mobile Device
     
  6. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,838

    I also agree that you will not pick up 50 lawns at those prices your first year. I could do at least 15 of those lawns with just mow edge line blow and go solo with ease in 8 hours.
     
  7. gasracer

    gasracer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,049

    50 lawns a week are doable but like a lot of others have said you will be drained. I have about 43 accounts. Some are every 5 days,7 days,10 days or 2 weeks. I have several of the small "postage stamp" yards and some large (2.5 acre) lots. For the most part I work solo but the big ones I have contact help. If your first year was like mine you will have 10 to 15 and start early in the season to get customers.If you are going to just do small yards I would say to get a 36"-40" WB. As my business grew I bought the equipment I needed for the jobs I was doing. Each piece of equipment has to be used enough to pay for itself.I just bought a new set of 6ft. long hedge trimmers because I have started working with agents on foreclosed properties and the bushes haven't been touched in months.
    Here is the list of my equipment as I have collected.
    52" Toro ZTR.(bought new)
    Toro Vacuum baqgger system for ZTR.
    48" Ferris WB with 2 wheel veilke.(Found on Craigslist with very low hours)
    36" Great Dane WB (found on Craigslist with low hours)
    Robyn 24cc weed eater
    Kawasaki 27cc Weed eater
    Red Max 30cc Weed eater
    Stihl Handheld blower
    Husqvarna backpack blower
    Kawasaki handheld hedge trimmers
    kawasaki 6ft. Articulating Hedge trimmers
    Stihl Chain saw
    Pressure washer
    Mo Jack Pro Mower lift
    I have a 12ft. Dovetail trailer with a landscape cage that I can haul 2 of the 3 mowers at one time depending on what I have on my list for the day.
     
  8. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Posts: 1,898

    I currently have 48 regular clients, and I do well. 85% of them have me do substantially more than just mowing. I also tend to their ornamentals, apply chemical applications, plant annual color, and install mulch. Some even have me clean out their gutters, and tend to handyman work around the house. One can easily gross $80K a year doing all this.
     
  9. gasracer

    gasracer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,049

    $80K? I would guess you are working year round?

     
  10. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Posts: 1,898

    Yes, just about. January & February are the slowest months for me but I still have work to do.
     

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