New to lawn mowing,, would like some tips

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by FredMaxwell, May 23, 2005.

  1. FredMaxwell

    FredMaxwell LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 13

    Good evening there,
    Forgive me if this post is too long but I've alot of questions,

    About me:

    I'm just getting started in this business because I'm in a bad financial situation and I can't stand a 9-5. I love to cut grass and always have, even when I had a whole lot of money and the pay didn't matter I still went out with a pushmower and cut lawns for my own enjoyment so I figure that I may as well do something I enjoy until I'm out of this mess and hopefully this can even help me rebuild my credit and my real estate career.

    Anything that helps pay the bill collectors for deletions is a good thing right now because I haven't paid anything in five months and you can't be financed to turn property over without good credit. I need to establish some good tradelines and get rid of the negatives. I have always had good credit and I'm not the type who lets things go if I can help it.

    Questions:

    If I am just starting out and I'm a normal guy with a truck, a couple of 12-13 horse riders and a 6.5hp LB pusher, will the big guys call me a scab and a lowball bastard and become angry and mad like Al Capone with me? I don't care if they don't like me, and I am good at becoming mad and angry myself so that's fine but I don't want to treat anyone unfairly.

    I can't afford the 62" cut 24hp mowers and all of that right now.. much less those bums trying to sabotage my equipment, which wouldn't be very easy because I store it all on the back patio over here.

    What I really want to do is cut big lots with the riders but I aint too sure where to find those jobs or if they will hire two tractors,, what I mean is, do folks insist on the big fine 23hp mowers or is it more important to get the job done? Where do I look for these jobs? I've got ads and flyers out and I'm going to go knocking doors in the better neighborhoods with the larger lawns tomorrow.

    What about taller grass? How tall can I cut with these? One is 12HP 38" cut and the other is 13.5HP 42" cut, both are Briggs & Stratton which I always thought was pretty good and they say commercial use on them but they look like normal riders to me.

    How much does insurance cost?

    Is it difficult to learn to drive a truck with a trailer?

    I want to make someone drive the second rider, so I offered him 25% of the pay... is that too much since I bought the mowers, the truck and pay for the gas/insurance?

    Also I have no idea what to price jobs by.. I don't want bid too low like a fool but I have to be reasonable at the same time.

    Will I look foolish if I am honest with the people and tell them I'm new to this and ask what they usually pay? I really like to be honest and upfront about things but I hate to make a fool of myself.

    Please be very direct and blunt with me here, tell me what you really think.. I like it right between the eyes over here. No games.
     
  2. Appalachian landscape

    Appalachian landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 453

    get a job for another company and gain some experience first. you have alot of questions that can be answered through time.
     
  3. HighGrass

    HighGrass LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Z5 MA
    Posts: 1,237

    What I really want to do is cut big lots with the riders but I aint too sure where to find those jobs or if they will hire two tractors,, what I mean is, do folks insist on the big fine 23hp mowers or is it more important to get the job done? Where do I look for these jobs? I've got ads and flyers out and I'm going to go knocking doors in the better neighborhoods with the larger lawns tomorrow.

    Customers don't usually know what mower will work best. Some even don't like the larger and faster commercial mowers (My experience)

    Your best bet is the newspaper until you have enough customers to develop referrals.

    I tried knocking on house this spring. I hit about 50 houses before I called it quites. All of them were nice, just not interested. My newspaper ad did very well. Cost me about 160/month but I'ts already paid back...and then some.

    Use whatever resources are available to YOU. Whatever equipment you use, do it professionally.

    Talk to your car insurance agent. They might be able to handle the type of insurance you'll need. Also, talk to a CPA to help you set up your books and be prepared to keep track of all of your expenses.

    I don't know what it's like in your area, but fellow LCO's won't sabotage your equipment if you keep your nose clean. Don't have too much of that in my area. (Knock Wood)

    What about taller grass? How tall can I cut with these? One is 12HP 38" cut and the other is 13.5HP 42" cut, both are Briggs & Stratton which I always thought was pretty good and they say commercial use on them but they look like normal riders to me.

    Taller grass- Depends. You don't want to get in the habit of this as it does take it's toll on motors but if you take your time, it can be profitable. The words "Commercial Use" can sometimes be over used so be careful.

    I agree that it might be a good idea if you work for someone else to learn some tricks of the trade. And, you'll get some valuable insight on how to bid job's and all of the other related items.
     
  4. Ax Man

    Ax Man LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 446

    Al Capone huh? Are you in Chicago? I havn't heard of any "turf wars" (he he) yet...
    Just do honest business, and you will be treated as you deserve.

    Before you knock doors, check to see if there are restrictions on soliciting. Also as you travel look at properties. The ones that look nice- why? The ones that need help- how to make em better? Target those.
    Try to keep you lawns as close together as possible, drive time dosn't pay.

    Tall grass- Cut as long as you can, you can't afford breakdowns. Know that your tractors are not Bushhogs. You can rent a mower for rough mowing like that.
    Keep an eye peeled for a used walkbehind. It will out cut your lawn tractors both in time and in finish.

    Here insurance is about a dollar per thousand of coverage.

    The trick to trailer hauling is the ability to use your mirrors for backing up.
    Practice before you go out and cause an accident.

    I'd work alone before I took a partner. figure how much $ you are making first.
    Typically 1/3 goes to bills (overhead) 1/3 goes to taxes. if you allready paid someone 1/4, you don't have enough for ramen noodles.
    Search overhead, pricing, how much...

    Good luck!
     

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