Need some expert advice

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by spat, Mar 5, 2003.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    I am with Ric and Bluesteel and the others.

    First, you bid these WAY too low. It seems like good money to you now. But that's because you are still too new to realize how much it REALLY costs to run a good, legitimate, operation. I'd charge a minimum of $105 per month for each of these places. Maybe down to $90 once I got like 30 or 40 in a row. But $50 is WAY WAY WAY too low for almost any property.

    Second, we do a lot of properties like this - with postage stamp sized lawns. In fact, most of our lawns are like this. Between 1000 - 3000 sq. ft. total. 21" Commercial Hondas work great for smaller lawns like this. We can mow and edge most of our properties in 15 minutes or so. And our base price is $115 per month. $105 if they're REALLY small and I have a lot in that neighborhood.

    I'd say you're onto something good but you may find that you've blocked out several days of your schedule with a bunch of $50 a month accounts when you could have waited a little, done some more research, and ended up filling those same days with just as many $100 or $130 a month accounts.

    There is a downside to getting a ton of people right next door too. Once you screw up (e.g. have some equipment problems, vehicle problems, employee problems, etc. that results in a delay or decrease in quality in their service) then EVERYONE will be talking about you. And as soon as one or two of them fire you, the rest will start dropping too. You gotta REALLY watch your toes when you do a bunch of people all on the same block who are close together. Just don't screw up.
     
  2. TotalCareSolutions

    TotalCareSolutions LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 518

    spat, id just like to wish you success.

    remember, always try to keep your words tender and tasteful...
    for tomarrow you may have to eat them.
     
  3. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    Listen, Spat. I know you think these $50 a month accounts are just gold right now. And reading more of this thread, I see you are pretty arrogant about it too. No problem. You'll learn. But consider this;

    How many of these $50 a month accounts do you think you can do in one day? 25? Maybe $30? Let's suppose you're REALLY good and did 35 in a day. That's a net of $1750 per month for that day. I got you beat by over $1000 PER DAY! On thursday, for instance, my 1st crew does 22 homes, in 8-10 hours, at an average of $125.45 per home, for a total of $2670 per month.

    So you'll be working your *** off doing 35 places a day and STILL MAKING $1000 less than a company like ours.

    And here's the kicker - That money is YEAR ROUND. We charge a flat, year round rate, even though we only come once or twice in winter months. So that $2670 will still be coming in in the middle of December or January while you're trying to find work.

    You'd have to mow 55 lawns per day to equal up to what we make in a day. And THAT'S why I am saying you've underbid. You could be getting so much more. And one day, you'll find out that you HAVE to charge a lot more, just to keep up with all of the business and life expenses there are.

    Well, you asked for expert advice. You've been given a lot of it. If you decide to continue to ignore it, I guess that's your problem.
     
  4. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    Steve,

    Is that St. Augustine? Being relatively coarse bladed and mowed tall, seems like it would mulch well. Some of the grass I mow here is dense as a door mat, more than a 1/2" to take off and you're in trouble. But those small lots add up, I'd hate to have to dispose of clippings on all those lawns. You mentioned walkers....you use the GTS on these lawns? What other types of grass do they use there and what would you say is the most common? I'm just amazed how everything is so much greener there.

    The overall landscapes in that part of Florida look so good. Nice n' neat. Here there's all sorts of stuff dropping on them all the time, and it's just not as lush looking. I'm starting to hate the lawns here in Atlanta. The Fescue looks crummy during summer, doesn't fill in bare spots, and the Bermuda looks crummy the other times and is a pain to mow on top of that. You have to fight to grow good lawns in this red clay. The year round mowing schedule there also sounds nice.
    Hard to imagine mowing in Jan/Feb. But I did rent a house there last year in January and I was swimming in the pool.
     
  5. spat

    spat LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Ok... let me climb onto my soap box.

    Bluesteel,jimlewis,ric and "the others"

    1) There is no "crew" just myself and a partner. Deduct your Workman's comp, employee abuse of YOUR equipment, salary and many more expenses. That extra 1000 is gone. Do the math

    2) My goal is to be "exclusive" to this subdivision and work out a HOA deal. " please don't comment" this is a thread of its own.

    3)Arrogant. Yes, next!

    4) The advice I was seeking was a productivity issue. Not " you bid too low" your "stupid" or "your new and will make mistakes"

    Now to elaborate on my initial post!

    1) I would like to know of an efficient way to trim along a block house while maintaining minimal contact with the painted surface without the aid of round-up. (Due to a new Florida law)

    2) A type of mower that will increase productivity on a newly sodded and irrigated St. Augustine lawn. These lawns have many small pine trees in rows along the back yard 38" to 40" from the rear of the property to a fence that runs the width of all lots.
    There are no gates or fences between the lots. With a 36 belt w/b the geometry of the operator and the machine is not in his favor, due to the small maneuvering space. These lots have a 60" to 80" wide strip between houses, in witch has an a/c unit (approx 3x3 concrete pad)
    The rear has an average of 15' deep x 45' wide
    The front has 5 feet to side-walk and 3 feet between side-walk and curb.

    If you feel you need to bash me....Please get up from your computer and go beat your wife, grab a beer and go watch some nascar.

    Please Educated responses only, In a professorial manner.

    I have been able to weed thru the bashing and get a little info,
    brucec32 ,nelbuts, TaussigLawnCare, TotalCareSolutions thank you. Sorry I if missed a few.

    Fantasy Lawns
    I think you understand my overall intentions...and thank you
     
  6. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,835

    Um. That's what you got. It's sorry you don't realize it. Next time instead of saying, "Need some expert advice", just title your thread, "Need some advice only from those who agree with me."
     
  7. mowngrow

    mowngrow LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 275

    yazoo-kees claims that their w/b is 18" shorter than their comp.
    that might be something to think about
     
  8. spat

    spat LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    and just to get back to jimlewis

    Lawn service to be on a weekly basis for the months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October and on a bi-weekly basis or as needed for the months of November, December, January, February and March. I use only annual contracts with payment in advance. I take Visa, Mastercard and AE and debit from my truck! and auto check draft is in the process. SO $50 per month per lot, potential of 100's this season and a total of 6000 homes planned by 2006.
    So 6000x$50=300,000 per month. 3.6 mil a year not including common areas. An hoa deal early on is the plan.Now if you want to bash me while straying off topic fine. If you would like to see my 220 page business plan and 2 years of research on the "green industry" and this planned community fine. The lowball is to keep people like you out so I may reap the rewards of the quantity. All I was looking for was simple advice on basics. The elementary learning curve of the field work is the only issue. The info I am seeking is to ensure that my goals on "time" may be met. My expenses in relation of the above mentioned "goals" should bring in excess of 500k a year to me. Oh...Have you ever thought to lowball your bid and make your profit on the extras? It has works fine for me in the 8 years I have been estimating commercial electrical projects. My involvement with this community at this stage is "market research" And I am doing other communities in order to gain more "field knowledge". If you would like to stand toe to toe in a corporate environment, I would own you! My verbage and intention of my initial post was to get info from "lawn guys" about the industry practices in the field. Not the way I do business, Please let my Lawyer, Accountant, Investors and analyst handle it. Now back to the "topic"
     
  9. Envy Lawn Service

    Envy Lawn Service LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,062

    I got info VERY EARLY about this machine, the new floating deck kutter hydro. I was all excited about the new design and the claimed deminsions.

    Truth is after getting the literature, the dang thing is 70" long!!! :angry:

    18" SHORTER THAN WHAT????:angry:

    What MFG makes an 88" long walkbehind? That's just plain false advertising! Plus it's only avaiable in 48" and 52" which wouldn't help him any. Like I said earlier, Yazoo's fixed deck mowers are shorter.
     
  10. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,913

    [​IMG]

    Spat:

    Please don't read between the lines ... what I DO n what others or your own self do is TWO different things ... first off ... I come in with a team focused on ONE task ..... 1,2 or 3 weed eat ...1 or 2 edge .... 1 or 2 mow ..... as a group we gain scales of economy n perform a job mmmuuch quicker than a solo or 2 .... I have read Many of the post .... n fore the most they have good advice (Jim L is RIGHT on target) ... each market is different but unless we Rreally know our own COST it is Impossible to apply a realistic Rate ..... so Know your cost n go from there

    We come in perform the work ... like an army team ..... this takes years of experience ..... DO NOT for 1 minute believe that 1 can just 'jump in' and do the same thing ..... Ennnjjjoyy your learning YEARS .... Undersstand that Others MAY have SOME sort of advice

    Spat .... go fore what you believe ...... if it becomes REAL than great ... killer ....IF NOT ... than Learn .... what could I have do different.... HOW should I have responded to such a Deal .... believe me HOA's are NOT fore everone .... they are vvverrryyy cost cutting ..... YET if worked with ....they CAN come your way .... But this takes Years of them being FOOLED by the FOOLS n you proving Else ways from good quallity work .....just remember

    "The Sour

    Taste of Poor Quality Last much Longer

    than the Sweetness of a Cheap Price"

    What this means is the 127 I have are "under contract" ..... I may work for each 127 in a way by themselves .... BUT the PM pays the bills .... so I keep the most of them happy n they ALL Pay .... do NOT get into a multi-contract deal with out a PM ..... otherwise there are just TOO many bosses ..... than issues come up n the phone will become a Night Mare ..... Good Luck in 2003
     

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