My Story So Far...

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Lake Claire Lawn Ranger, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Lake Claire Lawn Ranger

    Lake Claire Lawn Ranger LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    (This gets a little wordy, sorry)

    About ten or so years ago I was unemployed and had moved in with my grandmother. Yeah, I know, Looser. I felt it benefited both of us since I had a shelter over my head and she had me around every day to take care of things instead of just one day each weekend as it was for many years. Every Saturday a friend of hers picked her up to go to lunch together. One day when she came by, I answered the door. She handed me $20 and asked me if I would mow her lawn. She owned the property across the intersection from us since her aunt, who used to live there, passed away. The guy that usually mowed it was a few days late and hadn’t contacted her. I said yes I would be happy to mow it. Since she was a life long (my life anyway) friend of the family, I would have done it for nothing. This is when I realized PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY GIVE ME MONEY TO MOW THEIR GRASS!

    I decided to put an ad in the community newsletter. I only published a single ad but over the next two months I received several calls from it. I didn’t know what I was worth at the time, so I charged $10 an hour at first. People told me I wasn’t charging enough, so I raised my fee to $15 per hour. Obviously, I still didn’t know what it was worth. I made enough money to buy more and better tools and pay our utility bills, buy food and some extras. I built a good customer base over time and all I had to do was take care of my yards and the money took care of itself. I took pride in my work and my customers were happy. People would come by while I was working on a yard and ask if I would do their yard too but I had to turn them down because my schedule was full. An engineer I used to work with asked me to come work at a company he was now part owner of. I turned him down telling him how I was enjoying myself cutting grass, getting exercise and getting paid for it.

    A couple of years into it, a week before Thanksgiving, I was working in a yard carrying some pavers when my right arm started aching from my wrist all the way up to my shoulder and half way across my chest. It got worse and worse until I was ready to confess to anything. When it finally subsided, I got in my truck and headed for home. The pain came back a couple of times before I got home and I had to pull over until I could drive again. My doctor thought it might be my tendonitis that I’ve had trouble with in my elbow. I couldn’t do any work for a couple months but the pain finally got localized to the front of my shoulder. When Spring came around I had to drop half my customers because I had to work at a slower pace. My shoulder would hurt just walking around behind a self-propelled mower! Now I only made enough to pay part of the utilities and my part of the food. I didn’t know what I had done to my shoulder but it definitely wasn’t good.

    When the engineer asked me again to come work for them, I thought of the health insurance that would provide. As much as I hated to abandon my customers, I needed to fix my shoulder. I apologized to my customers and pointed them to other service providers.

    Well, it turned out to be a blocked artery! After a quad bypass operation, my shoulder felt great! My ribs sure did hurt for a while. To shorten this long story, after working as a technician again for five years, I’m layed off again. I’ve tried a few jobs that just haven’t worked out and finally realized I was happiest when I was cutting grass.

    I wasn’t trying to be a scrub before. I just didn’t know any better. This time I’ll be doing the license and insurance thing. And I will defiantly charge more than $15 per hour! I’ll also be looking into chemical certification and classes at a local college. I used to do all my yards with a 21” mower. Now I want to play with the bigger toys. I got an old WB off of ebay and with some work I think I can make a decent mower out of it. Can’t wait ‘till I can play with a ZTR!
  2. S man

    S man LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,562

    Welcome to the business! Today you have to charge a lot to stay in the game. I learned that when I started at those low cheap prices. Well they actually gave me more when they saw the great job done and were happy. Now I'm on my way and have raised my prices and have got better equipment. I use 21" mowers right now and am happy with them except a riding would be nice.
  3. MudFoot

    MudFoot LawnSite Member
    Posts: 31

    Just to think-- The family friend changed your whole life with that simple question! :)
  4. Lake Claire Lawn Ranger

    Lake Claire Lawn Ranger LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    Hi S man

    Thanks. A couple of my customers did raise me an additional $5 when I was doing it. I used to have a neighbor that is in the business and all he uses is 21" Toros and a three man crew, counting himself. He does well enough to go to Europe every winter!

    Yes Mudfoot, she did open a door. :D

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