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New Business, That Time of Year

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by diamondcare, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. diamondcare

    diamondcare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    I decided that at age 16 I'd set myself up for a possible career to give myself options in the future.

    I've got a plan of action and relatively 8000 to start up my own lawn maintanence company but have a few questions and could use some advice.

    Due to school and extracurricular activities I figure I can manage about 20 - 25 accts at a time until the end of May once school adjourns for the summer. After that if I decide to do so, I can expand into another area around Bridgeton (where I live).

    I figured pricing wise, since I have no idea on how to estimate and how I've got quite the competition with an LCO that works out of his home a few doors up, I better not charge too much at first and I think customers might like to see a flat rate charge for each service. Since in our neighborhood we have lots that range up to about quarter acre average, I figured I'd start off pricing at $25 and $30 for corner lots (since of course, they're larger). Would you consider that lowballing? I checked into the neighbor and what she pays for her service, and my competitor runs about $35 for a lot our size. I figure with pricing a few dollars under the main guy I could develop a better customer base and as a result be more stable with consistent customers.

    Licensing is another issue. I've been mentored by others older than me and they say don't worry about licensing, considering you're under 18 and would be merely "some kid looking for some extra cash."

    I also wanted to purchase new equipment, more decent than my Crapsman Mower and blower/trimmer hook-up.

    A vehicle is also a factor, but taken care of.

    I'm looking into purchasing an eXmark metro 36" used. Would anyone have any idea a mower of that size would run me used? New Echo Trimmer, Backpack Blower, and Edger as well which compared to the mower, truck, and trailer, would be a piece of cake to purchase.

    Advice would be greatly appreciated as would some advertising ideas. Mine being so far to advertise in the local bulletin of the church and putting a small ad in the Suburban Journal that serves Bridgeton.

  2. BSDeality

    BSDeality LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,850

    PLEASE do not "go a couple bucks cheaper". it just comes around to bite you in the ass in a year or two when you realize you're not making the money you thought you were.

    so basically... charge market rates, do good work and you'll be fine by the time you get out of school.
  3. Agriscape2006

    Agriscape2006 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    You've got a couple good things going for you first your young, second you dont have hardly any overhead but all not having overhead means is that more money gets put in your pocket dont make the mistake of thinking being cheaper will actually make you money in the long run all that does is put hours on equipment. Remeber when you get out of school you'll have to support your self and raising your rates is harder than just bidding them right the first time.
  4. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,587

    if you feel you dont need these things then your not going to be running a business, it will still be a neighborhood child mowing the grass.......until you mature, this wont work for you, until you realise WHY you need to be licensed and insured you arent thinking like a business man ....

    sure you can mow a few yards and make a few bucks/...... charging less then a job is worth will only hurt you and the entire industry, the customer becomes accustomed to paying 10 or 15 bucks for their lawn... then when a real company gives them a price they think it is outragious and will never pay what a job is worth to anyone... because of you...

    the real company has to pay insurance, license fees commercial plates and vehicle insurance , sales tax.....workers comp, soc sec. all the things that make him in business, not the little neighborhood kid cutting lawns behind the governments back....

    and remember this is a public forum...anyone can read, dont think your competition wont turn you in when he finds out your not legel... if you lived a couple doors down from my legitimate company.... id have to consider turning you in and taking your customers.....:)

    get a adult to help you become legal, it was bad advise you received that these things dont matter...
  5. 29 Palms Property Management

    29 Palms Property Management LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 347

    Find out how to estimate real quick.....you'll end up screwing yourself and other lco's if you under charge everything.

    YES. Very much so.

    No, No, No. Price what you need to price. Price what your area will handle. You can even price a buck or two higher than the next guy. Just make sure your quality speaks for itself. Think of the properties you do as your business card. You'll end up with PITA's that want everything for nothing if you price too low.
  6. vaughan711

    vaughan711 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 5

    Good for you. Go for it.

    I recommend you keep the business legal. Pay taxes, business license, etc. The tax process alone will be benefit you for many years to come. Work up a business plan, develop advertising, and learn as much as you can. Keep your costs as low as possible.

    Cash is king!

    Visit the dealers to get a feel on new/used equipment. Be honest and tell them what you are doing. Someone might take you under their wing and mentor you. Your youth can be an advantage. Everyone wants to help an underdog. Be loyal.

    Think of this as an education process. Be willing to make a lot of mistakes, but keep on going. Read as much as you can from various sources. Do your homework and you will be on your way.

    Good luck!
  7. diamondcare

    diamondcare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Thanks for the advice. In regards to me being businessman-like, I figured licensing would be a large obstacle considering I'm under 18, but after seeing what other's have said in regards to that I'm going to go ahead and get assistance with that from someone else. Insurance on the vehicle, equipment, liability, that was all in the original plan anyway. I've still got a little bit to check into, so don't start bashing me yet. I think once I get a few more quirks worked out I'd be able to get started easier than anything.

  8. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,587

    do a great job and charge for it.... they will still hire you...

    welcome and good luck..:)
  9. stroker51

    stroker51 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 819

    Wow, I wish i would have had $8000 starting out! It took me 2 years to get to the point where i had enough money to buy anything near what you are talking about. I am 17 now, getting ready to graduate high school, but what i have learned is exactly what everybody else says, be legit. I was talking to a friend of mine and former employer today who has been in this business since 1984, and he told me to even use insurance and workers comp., whatever, as a way of gaining a customer. If you bid a commercial job and they dont necessarily ASK about insurance, and you get beat, you can ask them if the other company has it. They may not, once the business starts to investigate, and you may end up with the job! It pays to be legit, and to bid work at what it is worth. Being a lowballer NEVER pays. I am too the point now that i can stick to my guns and tell somebody that i cant do the job for any less than what i bid it at. This will come with time, and what nobody has mentioned, is that the new guy will probably unintentionally lowball somtimes, but you will learn from it and eventually quit making those mistakes. Good luck to you, sounds like you have a pretty good start figured out.
  10. diamondcare

    diamondcare LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    yeah. i'm getting licensed, fully insured, etc etc. money to start with is what i'm most greatful for, thanks to money invested years ago pays off for a non-existent plan to attend college. i've really just go to learn to estimate properly and i think with that and everything else i'll get to know what i'm doing and have a career set up for me once i'm out of high school. that's what i'm hoping for.

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