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Just need some answers and proffesional advice...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Howie's Lawn Care, Jul 4, 2005.

  1. Howie's Lawn Care

    Howie's Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 512

    I have a few questions i need answers to before I can become a legit business. If you look at my profile you will see I've just started this year and won't be driving until September because I didn't get my permit until this past March. I have 20 full time lawns and 2-3 part time lawns. I am a scrub for the most part, but how can I not be considering I am just starting out. I have big plans for next year, atleast compared to this year. I just got an 1989 Ford Ranger and plan on buying new equipment next year. My main equipment will hopefully be as follows.

    2 - Toro Proline, 6 HP Kawasaki
    2 - Shindaiwa T350 Trimmers
    1 - Shindaiwa LE261 Stick Edger
    1 - Shindaiwa EB630RT Backpack Blower
    1 - 5 X 10 Trailer

    I want to get around 40-50 yards and have a friend work for me during the school year and I will handle all the work in the summer. Our mowing season starts in March - April and ends in September - October. I would like to do leaf removal, lawn clean-ups, and snow removal also. Here are my current mowing accounts. Let me know how big of a scrub I am. I also work for a local newspaper on Saturday mornings for about 8 hours(6:00 A.M. - 2:30-3:30 P.M.), so that's a little extra money.

    $10 - 20-25 Minutes
    $25 - 40-45 Minutes (2 YARDS SIDE BY SIDE)
    $20 - 40-45 Minutes (2 YARDS SIDE BY SIDE)
    $15 - 35-40 Minutes
    $45 - 50-65 Minutes (3 YARDS SIDE BY SIDE)
    $10 - 20-25 Minutes
    $15 - 55-60 Minutes
    $12 - 30-40 Minutes
    $12 - 30-35 Minutes
    $10 - 20 Minutes
    $10 - 15-20 Minutes
    $15 - 45 Minutes
    $12 - 40 Minutes
    $15 - 35-40 Minutes
    $25 - 90-120 Minutes (USE HOMEOWNERS EQUIPMENT)

    I'm only using a 22" push mower though. I mow, trim, and edge each lawn. I would like to get a ZTR, but would rather pay for equipment in full and get a FORD F-150 + FRONT MOUNT GRASSHOPPER after next year. The Grasshopper would be great for snow removal plus it has so many other attachment. Their dealer support is awesome around here. Let me know if my plans sound good. Anyways, here are my important questions.

    1. Where do I go in Ohio to get information about and get a business license? Do I just need a business license or a business license and lawn contracter type of license? How much do these items cost on average.

    2. Where should I go for insurance? What type of insurance is it classified as (for lawn maintenace)? Will I have to go through my parents for licensing and insurance since I am sixteen and if not, should I anyways because of prices? What should I expect to pay for insurance that pertains to my needs?

    3. How do you get a license for applying fertilizer? Where is the best place to purchase fertilizer after doing so?

    Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give me. Please don't tell me to work for a lawn maintenance company to get experience and learn about the industry. It just isn't an option in my mind. Besides, I'm learning plenty about the business through LawnSite.
  2. burns60

    burns60 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 291

    Howie, I can't give you much advice on the licenses you will need in that area. I can't give you much advice on the equipment. although I have some preferences. I would recommend you save up and get that ZTR as soon as possible. I won't critique your prices, but as time goes by and you get more experience, you may want to adjust them "up" in some cases. I guess what I really want to say to you is that I admire your obvious organization skills, your plan to go forward with your business, and the maturity that I sense in your post. Don't worry about what some may call you on this board, just stay the course and use your own judgement, as it seems better than some I have seen on this board from grown men.
  3. Rescue Lawn

    Rescue Lawn LawnSite Member
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 9

    I am also in the same situation as howie. I was wondering what type of ZTR you recommend for residential yards or would a W/B 36-44" be better?
  4. lqmustang

    lqmustang LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 620

    1. The state only requires that you have a service vendors license for sales tax collection purposes. You can find out the details at their web site. http://tax.ohio.gov. You may also want to register your business name. I am not familiar with greenville, so you will have the check and see if you would need anything locally.

    2. Call around for quotes. There are many companies that provide the insurance you will want. I use Erie.

    3. http://www.ohioagriculture.gov/pubs/divs/plnt/plnt-licensing.stm I don't know if you can get licensed at 16, you'll have to check on that. Many people use Lesco. There are other suppliers also.

    Now, some hints. Once you gather all your costs, you may want to revisit your price list. While I don't know your market, you may be leaving a bit on the table. Also, if the ranger runs good, I would keep it for a while. I used a ranger for 3 years, and it did just fine. For the machines, I would get a 48 walkbehind as fast as I could. 21's will just take too long with the number of accounts you wish to attain, especially with you still in school. The cost for the wb will also me much less than a ztr depending on what models you are looking at. If you have the cash for the ztr, go for it, but keep in mind a ztr will limit you a bit more than a walkbehind as to how many places you can take it. (Hills, tight properties, etc.) I spent a few years with a 48wb and a 21. It's a nice combo for a solo operator. Finally, if you don't have that 5x10 trailer yet, give me a holler. I have one sitting around here that is like new.
  5. Howie's Lawn Care

    Howie's Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 512

    I don't have the trailer yet. I should probably get a 6' X 12', so I can put a ztr and walk-behind on it later. I just wouldn't want to pay a thousand dollars when I can get the right size to start with. How much are you asking for your 5' X 10' trailer. Also, what kind of walk behind do you recommend? I bought my edger off a dealer that also sells Hustler and thought that looked like a good choice. There are alot more small lawns than there are big lawns in my city, so would you think a 36" might be more ideal. I'm not going to have money for 2 walk-behinds unless I finance. I would rather finance a WB and a ZTR. ZTR costs twice though. Thanks for all the help.
  6. lqmustang

    lqmustang LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 620

    It would be hard for me to say whether a 36 would work better than a 48-52 for you. You might be suprised what you can put a larger wb on. In my situation, the larger wb was best. I have very few gates(3), and those with gates are small enough that using the 21 doesn't take long. While having both a wb and a ztr may be your ideal setup, that is gonna be alot of money. Do you really want to take on that much debt before you even get established? For equipment brands, go with what you have the best dealer support for in your area. Asking a 'who's better' question won't get you very far on here. :dizzy: Any commercial brand such as Exmark, Scag, Ferris, Dixie, Toro, and a bunch of others should suit you just fine. Try to demo anything you are interested in before buying.

    You can see the trailer I have available here. http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=108207

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