Interested In Opinions

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by gce_ent, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. gce_ent

    gce_ent LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 93

    OK let me preface this by saying I am not an expert in Lawn Care so if I have made incorrect assumptions below it is from lack of industry knowledge.

    The way I see Lawn Care and Basic Landscaping is that it is an industry with very low barriers of entry and a very deep employment pool (here in TX). So with a relative basic setup for equipment and a mass marketing scheme clients should come forward at a moderate rate and through good work grow. That being said here is my plan below and I would appreciate constructive criticism if you feel it necessary.

    Personnel:
    Initial Crew of 3 persons (Manager @ $10 / Regulars @ $8 per hour)
    F-250 w trailer
    Metro 26" (yes I have changed route on this if you saw my previous post)
    Echo PB 620
    Echp PE-310 Edger
    Echo SRM-210

    Marketing Strategy:
    Initial placement of 40,000 flyers in 4 areas (please review door flyer)
    Sponsorship of local kids soccer team and baseball team
    Ad in city paper
    Ad placements on local bulletin boards

    My Plan:
    I will utilize next day cc processing for work performed
    Lawns will be multched or bagged for an upcharge
    If marketing takes off I will start the second crew

    With this strategy I beleive I can be successful. As I mentioned my experience at this is basically my own yard and landscaping. I have two other companies which I manage so my experience comes from there. Please let me know if I am missing the ball because I feel I can be successful relatively quickly.

    As always all thoughts are appreciated.
     

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  2. chriscraft

    chriscraft LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 390

    hm if youre not working it good luck , as for 10.00 an hour i dunno my trimmers start out at that and as for 40,000 flyers and a 26" mower you will get no work done. i can edge , trim and blow off a house nearly as fast as one emplyee can cut a reg yard with a 60 ' mower so if yo uuse a 26' mower plan on a crew of 2 caus eits gonna take forever to cut. it takes an average of 60-90 seconds ot edge a house, 5 minutes to trim it, 5 to blow off so if you use 3 guys they gonna be waiting around 50% of the time
     
  3. Freddy_Kruger

    Freddy_Kruger LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,064

    Nice post chriscraft. I'm just here to learn about lawn care and this post goes in my file:weightlifter:
     
  4. cwlawley

    cwlawley LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 470

    I think that you are dead on with a couple of things, but are making a couple of items mroe simplier than they really are. Yes, "mow and go" not landscaping does have very low barriers of entry and a very deep employment pool. It is also not a twelve month industry and the industry forces you to purchase costly equipment to grow.

    Once you get away from just mowing and trimming you are going to need additional equipment, more knowledge (including licenses, etc) and you are going to have to pay your employees more.

    Problems I see with your plan:

    1. Managers - $10.00/hour - not sure if this will fly...I pay laborers about $8.00/hour, but managers normally around $15.00.

    2. 40,000 flyers - hope you have a lot, I repeat, a lot of help...and if you do be prepared to fork over some cash to pay them. This is going to take a lot of time and more than likely you'll get them, pass a couple out and stop using them, thus wasting your money.

    3. Marketing Plan - make sure that you have determined all of your overhead costs - including advertising. With the amount of advertising you are planning to do you are going to be set back quite a while. Is there money in this industry, yes, but there are also lowballers out there offering $10.00 less to cut grass than you.
     
  5. rfed32

    rfed32 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Hatboro
    Posts: 680

    managers in this area start out about 17 and if they are good like some of the companys i know they are making 20-25

    as for that 26''--no go...too small you wont get anything done, get a 48in some ramps and lose the trailer or just put it on the traler

    40,000 flyers is a lot...i pass out flyers for 2hrs a day when i get off work at my construction job and it gets old after about 20mins lol so u better get a few guys that will work cheap..oh and you dont need to buy them i make them on my computer and get plenty of call backs...as long as they look good...put them in the door or on the flag of the mail box..just as efective as the door hangers and stuff b.c they will look at it before it hits that trash can

    your off to a good start b.c the first step is to have a plan...i didnt have a plan just went into it with what i knew from working for others and didnt do half as well as i thought i would...there are a lot of "mickey mouse" operations out there but u just have to work your tail off and look profesional...good luck i wish you all the luck
     
  6. Jody P

    Jody P LawnSite Member
    Posts: 27

    I don't know how you can make a living advertising lawn care for $25.00. In order to get production your crew is going to work a 10 hour day and you need to do 10 accounts a day to pay for the crew and 10 more a week to cover over head. If you figure the truck payment, equipment payment, insurance, fuel, phone, etc. it will take the revenue from 10 accounts a week to pay for cost of doing business. Now you want some profit to make a living. Say you plan on paying yourself $500.00 a week. That adds 20 more accounts per week. You are now needing 80 accounts per week. Before i started developing my business plan a made a chart showing amount I wanted to charge and how many I needed to make what i needed to cover overhead and profit.

    number of accounts $35 $40 $45

    10 $350 $400 $450
    15 $525 $600 $675

    I calculated up to 40 accounts (This number is based on how many accounts I think I get my first year and that I only want to work 3 - days a week)

    The chart allow you to see what kind of combinations you need make enough money to cover expense & profit. I plan on getting my applicators license and also picking up additional work doing light installations. (reason for only 40 accounts)

    Instead of a flyer I am going to have door hangers printed up. I think they are more professional looking. (A lot of the low end LCO's drive around throwing out sandwich bags with a note and a rock or pin/tape a note on your mailbox. Most of these end up blowing away. I am going to leave a blank space on my door hanger so that in areas I really want to target I can leave a personalized note or even a quote (I can mow, trim & blow your yard for $$)

    Remember, the large LCO's are not giving their services away. they use a combinations of selling tools and services to be profitable. Even a one man crew can do the same.
     
  7. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,195

    just me, but it sounds as if your price is really low if you are planning to pay laborers...
     
  8. PMLAWN

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    Changes-- Small truck S 10 or Ranger, crew of 2. small trailer or even bed on truck (custom) 36" hydro and 21" commercial.

    And than an add in the job area of every paper in your area to keep a fresh supply of workers as well as planning to work yourself 8-9 days a week to start it off and till you get some guys you can really use.

    Very hard to start in this business with a crew and all the overhead, most start as a one man show and grow slow
     
  9. gce_ent

    gce_ent LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 93

    Thank you alol very much for your comments! I had to travel yesterday and just got back so I will review and take it all into consideration.

    A couple of responses:

    1) PMLAWN - I already have two 2006 F 250s sitting and not working so that is why I chose those trucks. I will go check out the mowers you recommended and possibly change my mind again. I do plan on working right beside my guys as well as go out and secure new customers. I know it will be difficult but I never planned on it being a sit back and watch type company. I have the money to bank roll the overhead for now which is why I am jumping in the way I am.

    2) Brendan Smith - You are possibly right but I am weary of missing customers due to the prices I have seen offered in these areas. So my plan was to charge less and take on more accounts to compensate. Requires more crews and management on my part.

    3) Jody P - I too have made a proforma (chart) and feel that I can cash flow at this rate but as I mentioned above will need very many accounts to do this. Honestly I figured my optimum performance would be 2 crews running 30 yards each a day 5 days a week. I do realize it will take me some time to get to this performance level and I can tell you I do not expect, nor want, it all right up front. I was going to go with Door Hangers other than Flyers but the company I am using to run them out talked me out of it. Ace Flyer Distribution is the company I am going with and he seems to know what he is talking about. However, that being said I am going to shop around and see about doing Door Hangers. In regards to diversifying I am planning on teaming up with local companies to offer more services than just lawn care, that is till I can do these other things myself.

    4) rfed32 - I will think about raising my payroll based on how they handle the job assigned. I beleive in paying well but I also know that the work has to be there and done well. I will adjust my rate upward if I feel it is warrented but as of right now my initial crew is happy. Plus these are people that have worked for me in the past so they know I will take care of them well. What worries me about the 48'' I was going to purchase was to getting it into backyards. The salesman told me to buy a smaller unit for this reason and I chose just to go small but I may reverse myself once again. Also there is no way in hell I will be passing out the flyers... I would pay, and will pay, good money to have it done professionally.

    5) cwlawley - I believe I answered most of your comments above. However, you are absolutley correct in that I will need to diversify and stay busy the whole year. I have two other companies which will negate any slow time from this one but I don't want to do anything half cocked. I want to make sure I can be valuable to my clients all year round. I just have not settled on where the additional value will come from.

    6) chriscraft - I am considering dropping to a 2 man crew do to your post. Thank you for saving the money! As for working it myself...I will have much to do so yes I plan on being very active in all aspects of the company. I am going to consider revising my payroll as well as equipment. However, I am supposed to pick up equipment tomorrow so hopefully what I end up with will be in stock!

    Thanks again for your comments!

    5)
     
  10. SWD

    SWD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 989

    Several points for consideration.

    License for the application of pesticides. In the state of Texas, one has to have either a TDA license or a SPCB license, plus the mandatory record keeping on an approved form, maintained in your files for two years.

    License for Irrigation. It is an absolute given that your employees will mutilate irrigation in turf sites. With-out the license you are not allowed to repair/replace what you have broken - it, by law, has to be done by a current license holder.

    Uniforms. Stay away from the economy of scale, low entry cost business model. Offer a complete service to separate you from the other spring time start ups. Your professionalism, appearance and reliability will garner much more work that your low price. The one single aspect that has really, in a positive way, effected my business was mandating and enforcing a uniform policy.

    Advertising. Your method of advertising will impact on your client base. Stay away from the penny papers, free handouts, door hangers, etc. Locate the high-end residential areas and market in their phone books, news papers, POA directory, and possibly - with an effective appearance, mass mailings.

    Maintenance. Find a good dealer and explain to them your business model. Ask for their input on equipment resulting in the best fit for you. Personalize your relationship with this dealer so you are not just another smelly spring start up stinking in his showroom waiting on a busted mower to be repaired.

    Labor. $10.00 an hour for management, in a populated area will result in the dregs appearing at your doorstep. $14-$16/hr plus some perks like supplying their boots and uniforms will generate better leads. If you economize here, having poor labor will wreck you from the outset. Given your limited knowledge, seek qualified applicants from the two-year university programs in turf or hort maintenance. Pay them the higher wage, listen to their input, and capitalize on their enthusiasm.

    Equipment. I have finally begun to lease rather than own - and I factor these costs into my margins. Yes it may cost a bit more, but I can accomplish more with more reliable, modern, equipment, so the machines actually end up making you money, not costing.

    Storage. Do you have the room to safely keep all of this necessary equipment? Do you have a dump site for the debris you will inevitably have to haul away?

    At least you are thinking and planning rather than jumping in and reacting.

    Good Luck,

    Steve
     

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