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Newbie and a New Business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Dreamin', Jun 9, 2008.

  1. Dreamin'

    Dreamin' LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    First let me say that this is the first post I am making on this site. I discovered it while doing a search and was impressed with what I found. I have many questions and in order to help you folks answer them, I will provide some back ground information for you.

    I will be 30 years old at the end of this year and have done many different things with my life. From retail jobs while younger, to a fishing guide in Canada during college, to a sales job now, however, I have always wanted to work outside and for myself. After working for a few small business owners and even managing their business for them, I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like being your own boss! More headaches.....yes, more satisfaction.....for sure!

    After contemplating my options, I have decided to begin a career/business in this industry. The plan is to start on a part time basis while continuing my current job (to keep some money coming in) and then hopefully transitioning into a full time business. I understand that it is late in the year and I want to do this right, so I am currently researching, planning, etc. with a plan of being up and running in the spring of 2009.

    Most of my questions revolve around pricing, learning and education. I have been in professional sales for the last 8 years and understand that this really is another sales/service career. I am fortunate in that my significant other is the director of marketing for a national company, so I will use her expertise in that area. However, I am contemplating school and getting a degree in Horticulture with an emphasis on landscape design and construction as well as turf management. Pointless or helpful?

    I want to start with the basics of lawn care and eventually move up to include landscape design and construction. What type of equipment would I need to start (ie: size mower, trimmer, edger, hedge clippers, blower, etc.)?

    What is the proper way to charge, by the hour of by the job? I am not worried about over pricing since my general area of suburbia contains a lot of wealth.

    How long did it take most to establish themselves as a reputable company and begin utilizing the income from their business to support them and their families full time?

    What types of insurance is required (if any) and what are its costs?

    Do I need legal advising or a lawyer?

    I understand that there is a lot to learn and I appreciate all fed back that may be given. Given the length of this post, I will stop here and I look forward to posting with all of you!

    Thank You!

    Dreamin' :usflag:
  2. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    Not needed if you are just doing residential lawn maintenance. Useful as you said for landscaping. You will need a license to spray pesticides for weed problems. Not sure about just fertilizing though.

    Figure out how much you want to make and learn what others are charging in your area. You're gonna get guys on here telling you not to charge any less than $40 for a job. But the fact is, they dont know how big your lot sizes are and they dont know the going rate in your area. You're simply going to need to figure out how much you want to make. I go off of a $1 per minute rate and it works fine. With a 21" mower it wasnt possible, and I was doing like $0.60 per min, but with better equipment, that has gone up since I can do more faster.

    Call up your local insurance company and ask them for rates for a lawn service, not landscaping.

    Starting equipment: 21" mower, trimmer, blower... these are the essentials for a basic lawn service package. I suggest practicing on your own lawn especially using the trimmer to edge. Otherwise get yourself a stick edger.

    If you buy this stuff from home depot/lowes it will cost you less to start up but most of that stuff is homeowner equipment and will wear out fast. Buying commercial grade will set you back a few thousand. I started with troybilt equipment from lowes and got started with $800. Now I've got better equipment and I really didnt have too much problems other than my mower's drive belt crapping out on my 5 times last year.

    After 3 months during my first year, I had 40 weekly customers averaging $35 per service. After expenses, thats just about enough to cover the basics of living :)

    I would talk to a CPA about your business' taxes. I tried looking into it myself but got a headache.

    Check out legalzoom.com about getting your dba and all that.

    Hope I've helped. Good luck!
  3. Dreamin'

    Dreamin' LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Great info BGLC! I appreciate the insight as it is always beneficial to learn from others.

    I was thinking of getting some of the equipment from a place like Lowes, however, I do not want to end up purchasing equipment again in another year. I was looking at getting into John Deere products. I like what I have seen from them and they have a good program as well.

    I hear you regarding the business financials! I will be passing that off to the more capable!

    Thanks Again!
  4. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    NEw business is GREAT, keeps us all on our toes....

    one thing to think about is money, Most people dont realize that you need to be prepaired NOT to make a penny for at least 3 years.... and with that Spending about 10 to 12 thousand for that ammount of time.....

    The Government has some GREAT advice on starting,

    A lot of LCO's will start with nothing and get agervated in a few short years realize there NOT turning the profett they expected and working too hard...
    then they leave the Business.....

  5. zemzabob

    zemzabob LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 321

    Will this is a great place to learn everything you need to know.
  6. MowHouston

    MowHouston LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,012

    The troybilt equipment I bought my first year did the job well. Albeit slower and I had to replace those damn belts.

    The mower still gives a great cut, you just cant get as much done as a commercial mower. I dont think any homeowner mower can.

    The trimmer I bought was great for even edging. Had a little guide on the front that made it snappy. However, I ran it through hell and back with some thick grass and the thing finally froze up on me.

    Blower still works and is my backup or a worker grabs it and helps finish blowing if I'm still at it. I dont expect it to make it to next season though :)

    The thing about Lowes and Home Depot is they wont let you demo their stuff. lol I tried. They looked at me funny.

    Get something self propelled, higher horsepower, and seriously... if you find it sucking, TAKE IT BACK and tell them it doesnt cut worth a crap at your home (dont mention running all around town for commercial use) Sounds like a crappy thing to do but you're just getting into the business, you're not sure what to expect from one of those mowers.
  7. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 8,538

    My third year was the real beginning of the good life. My first year was to just get my feet wet and buy some equipment. My second year was to buy more equipment and gain more customers. Did better than expected in my second year, however i put all the money back into business. My third year my business exploded. Then i quit my day job. Full schedule for mowing and installs. Thats the point i started to increase prices and profit. Once you have a full schedule it wont scare you to try and charge more for services. With a full schedule its ok to get a few NO's.

    Never ever EVER buy home owner equipment! Buy commercial and dont buy small. Larger mowers cut faster which means more customers.
  8. RonB

    RonB LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 429

    Your background experience says nothing about hard labor and that's really what lawn care is. Do you cut your own grass? Guess not if no equip.

    Are you sure you want to work long, hot days, aching back, pained hands from trimming, etc. have a couple more to do today, then get up in the morning and do it all again? For a few years before you start making a buck?

    If this assumption is correct - get a cheap mower, trimmer and blower - get a few clients and do them all in one day - see if it's what you expect it to be. Or work for someone awhile.
  9. tomflan947

    tomflan947 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 25

    do not buy john deere equipment it is just a beefed up harry homeowner equipment . look into exmark or toro and shidawa or sthil for trimmers and blowers
  10. Dreamin'

    Dreamin' LawnSite Member
    Posts: 3

    Please do not assume! Though I am currently in a "professional sales" position, my back ground includes roofing, framing, trim work, concrete, etc. Sooo, I do know about hard, long days and being sore and tired. Most of my friends are also in the trades!

    Yes, I do my own lawn care and all of the other work that goes along with owning a home. Just because I inquired as to what type of commercial equipment does not mean I have zero equipment. I am not about to use that stuff for everyday work and wear it out!

    Not trying to be an @ss, but again, please don't make assumptions.

    That is too bad with regards to JD, I really liked what I had to see. I guess I will not rule them out, but I will expand my research.

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