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Just getting started

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by bilchak, Feb 12, 2001.

  1. bilchak

    bilchak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 89

    Hello everyone:

    My buddy and I are starting are own lawn care service this spring. We want to mow both residential and commercial sites. We are both going to take this on full time.

    Here are a few questions we have:

    1) How many mowers should we start out with? We are
    thinking of either a 52 or 48 inch walk behind, and
    we wanted to know if we will need another smaller one
    such as a 36 or 32 inch walk behind? Will the bigger
    mowers fit through gates into backyards? What about
    a 21 inch push mower? What is the best combination
    to get started?

    2) Pricing. What type of system are you guys using
    to price your yards? We are trying to break down
    everything to be billed by the hour. IS this appropriate?
    Should we set a minimum price for any yard? Our
    buddy who is in the biz says he will not get out
    of his truck for under 30 dollars. We are going to start
    out just mowing, trimming, blowing, edging, and
    cutting shrubs. We would like to move into other things
    as we grow, but that will have to wait.

    3) Buying the mower. We have looked at Scags,
    eXmarks, and Toros. Any preferences and what type
    of options should we be looking at? How much
    are the dealers willing to deal with you? If
    we buy all the equipment from one dealer....should
    he be oblidged to give us some sort of a deal?

    4) Advertising: What are the best ways to
    get started in the area. We are going to be working
    in a small town of about 15,000 and the surrounding

    5) Any other advice??......we are all ears.

    Thanks in advance for all the help and advice. We look forward to adding our own opinions and knowledge in the future.

    Thanks again,
    John and Bob
  2. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Hey Bilchak! Welcome to the forum. I'll see if I can help you out. Correct me guys if I'm wrong.

    1-Mowers. How many and what size is really determinded by how many accounts you take on and how big they are but since you don't know how many lawns you're going to get, unless you have a set number, I can't direct you exactly to what you need. I'd say you need to figure out how many lawns you are going to take on then figure on what size of mower to get. I'd say if you were goin to do maybe 10-15 a 48" and a 36" would do just fine. For more than 15, a 52" and 36" or if you're really a go-getter for more than 20, a 52" and a 48". I'd say a 21" is necessary for yards with gates. It actually depends on how big the gate is actually. You'll have to decide when you get some accounts before you can justify the purchase of a 21".
    2-Pricing. I guess it kind of depends on where you live. If you live in a town full of really cheap people, you can't charge a bundle or they won't hire you. I price my jobs on 3 terms: how long it takes, how many obstacles, and how the yard is geographicly laid out (like hills, etc). Hills, for me, are a big one. I live in a valley and there are quite a few homes on the sides and some of them don't acutally level out their lawn when they put it in. I don't have a set hourly rate but with the combination of all 3, you can come up with something reasonable. Just price it on how much you think it would cost but don't lowball it, nobody likes a lowballer. Too bad for me cuz my town is full of them. They just ruin it for everyone.
    3-Buying the mower. Exmark is the best. An option that would be a good on an Exmark would be the Micro Mulch Kit. This allows you to mulch. No messy discharge (only on some lawns) and no BAGGING! If you tell your customers about mulching, some of them might look at you as if you were an idiot. Some of them don't actually know what it is. I had 4 or 5 of my customers that I got this year didn't have a clue as to what mulching was. Just explain it the best you can. If you want details, let me or somebody on here know, I'm sure between the 2,000 some members we can help you out. LOL.
    4-Advertising. There are many ways to advertise. Business cards, flyers, yellow page listings, and word of mouth. I found that word of mouth didn't work for me because I didn't have chatty Kathy customers. LOL. I was really disappointed about word of mouth really. I was hoping for it to get me alot of work but it never did spread. Do what works for you. If you live in a small town, the local radio station works. But remember for a large town or city, people can recieve a radio message miles away. You can always turn down a job but it's still a pain.
    5-Advice. Yeah, I got a little. Work hard and don't give up. That is a lesson I learned. I worked hard this summer and made alot of money for living in a tiny little village with cheap people. My friends knew I started mowing and at my age (14) people said "you're an idiot" "it'll never work" and "you'll go out of business". I said forget them, I'm goin to go mow 'cuz I like to and I can make good money if I dominate my village. I was fighting lowballers left and right and I'm slowly kickin their butts. Do REALLY good work and try not to make your customers mad. They will moan and whine at you about every little tiny thing but they ARE paying for it so give the people what they want. Good Luck! :)

    P.S. And no circle crap mowing style! It's stripes all the way. That's how you hook customers. LOL.
  3. Ocutter

    Ocutter LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 314

    Hey guys congrats o the new business. I started with a 21" and upgraded to a 36". The fence deal will have to be measured at the time of the est. Some may take 32" some you can squeeze a 48" thru. I personally wont do any houses with a fence and gate unless my rider can fit. You can start with one mower (2 for when you get bigger lawns) while you or Bob trims and blows depending on the yd. size. Get 2 hand blowers and whips, in case one breaks down you have a backup. Have a traler? A 5x10 does nicely for starters.

    Pricing- I have a limit of $10 for 2500 sf and thats with 7 condos together. $30 for intricate 1/4 acre lots and so on. Your first lawn should be your own. Time yourselves, see what it takes, and figure out a decent price. Dont be afraid to ask other LCO's for an est. to compare. Other lawn est. will be compared to yours (thinking does this look like ours in mow, trim, and blow time). Shrubs always start by doing it by the hr. You'll always get some cust. asking you for a $ ad then when youre just about done they will say "oh since youre here do that too". Dont cut yourself short.

    Buying- Some dealers MAY cut you a break on buying, but I never seen it. Even if paid in cash. Always use the finance method, you can always write off the interest and you will have a little extra cash to play with.

    Mowers I have had Scags, Snappers, and Exmarks. Each have their ups and downs. I liked all of my mowers (still have my firsts). Keep up on the maint!!! Go with a belt drive for starters then upgrade to a hydro. Some here will tell you to go with the hydro immediately. Do so if you have 2000-3500 to play with. Otherwise learn from the belt then move on.

    Advertisng- go to http://www.nebs.com and ask them to send you a landscape contractor est./ad package. In this you'll find door hangers that work well for me. 33% off your first order too.

    Im sure there more you need to know. If so mail me. Chris. Good luck.
  4. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    Hi John and Bob

    Welcome to lawnsite. While you are waiting for some responses, you can check out Eric ELM's link page which lists previous discussions on just about every topic.


    As far as dealers working with you on price, you might want to consider buying a 2000 model which has NOT been used if your dealer has any leftover inventory. We just bought two Exmarks which were leftover 2000, and we got a great price on them.

    Osc has some good advice. Check out Nebs, and he's right about the belts.

  5. npalomba

    npalomba LawnSite Member
    Posts: 108

    Suggestion that you need to consider is the type of lawns res/comer; that you will be mowing; That will dictate what size mowers you need.

    Make sure in starting out that you have a good mix of com/res since you don't want to put all your eggs in a com. account and then lost it and be out of business.

    Depending on how many people you have basics should be 21 inch mower; big mower (biggest for your size work that you could afford) trimmers, stick edger (something I need to buy after some feedback from people on lawnsite) backback blower.

    All equipment should be from a dealer that's local, been around for a while and services what they sell; be careful of brand suggestions since they are subjective. Make the best purchase for your needs.
  6. bilchak

    bilchak LawnSite Member
    Posts: 89

    Thanks for the quick response and all the info guys!! I'll let you know which way I decide to go!!


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