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"Nobody Starts at the Top"

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Tom023, Nov 14, 2002.

  1. Tom023

    Tom023 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

  2. stevo22

    stevo22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 344

    it will all depend upon what the market will bear per neighborhood...one neighborhood might be up to $65 per cut while others will be 35-45 per cut..you should get a good grasp of how long it should take you to perform the task..better faster, more efficient equipment will prob come down the road but the price does not change when you cut the same yard for 65 bucks in 50 mins then get the better equip then cut it in say 13-18 mins w/ a helper..proff appearance i feel is important..regardless if you are 17 or 50 you should be able to get the going rate as long as you can communicate well w/ people...make sure to call folks back as quickly as possible and give the estimate as quick as possible...oftentimes the person that shows up first and bids the residential will usually get it if they know how to be polite, proff, knowledgeable etc..you have to be a salesman sometimes too..
  3. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,218

    Tom- some good points from Steveo. I think it's great that you are planning your business in such detail. I too have been in the business since I was young, but didn't incorporate and get serious until I was 22. I will attempt to answer some of your questions based on my experiences through the last 8 years. I think it's good that you are focusing on a target market-high end residential and commercial.

    If you want to be a competitor in this arena, you MUST educate yourself. I would absolutely take some horticulture classes, even if you have to attend at night. Join your local landscape/nursery association. You will meet people with knowledge you won't believe. Network with these people. Finally, sit down and crunch the numbers. You should know what it costs you every day, hour, even minute that you operate. You must have some idea of your costs and profits desired in order to bid correctly.

    I really don't think that 5 months of reading will be a substitute for years of experience, which your competitors have. I don't care if you have the shiniest trucks or the nicest uniforms, if you don't have the knowledge and experience, the client will know it right away, or will quickly figure it out.

    Do your best with what you have for now, and always aim for your goal of the high-end residential and commercial properties. Take what you can get, providing you are making money, and the properties you want will come. Be patient and work hard to build up a good reputation. Good luck to you, Mike
  4. rross

    rross LawnSite Member
    Posts: 52

    I am 20 years old Tom, and I started doing small stuff for my fathers business when I was little. I would do mostly townhouses for them cause I was little, from the time I was able to drive I started doing the whole rig bit and going to large commercial areas to cut grass as well as the residential homes. I was in the same place as you and kind of still am. I started with a 21" also and dide approx. 25 townhomes and some common ground. Man, look its a great place to start. The posts before mine were excellent pieces of information. Seeing things from your view point your probably anxious at the profit that can be made there. It is exciting! However for what most homeowners don't understand is that we do have a solid knowledge of the outside. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a know it all by no means, but if you take some class's yes it would greatly benefit you in he field. Oh, and all these threads, best piece of knowledge you could possibly find anywhere. Just hit search anf read threads from beginning to end, you can find different proceedures for completeing tasks, was to estimate, prices. Everyone has different systems, and if you can see what alot of people on here do, then that will help you develope a system as well.

    What will your market bare?
    well see everywhere is different, some people say 50 to 60 dollars an hour can never be reached, I laugh at that sometimes and think oh yea it can. Where I am at I can greatly exceed that with the right jobs, but on the norm it stays in that proximity. Find someome on here that knows your area, or is from your area. Ask them if they would help you learn how to price these homes.

    As for making money, yea definitly sit down and see what things are going to cost you, but with a small mower I think you know where you concentration will be. At the start sometimes you might have to take smaller prices, hopefully not, but if you do, try and make sure those houses are the ones everybody sees. Cause if your not getting paid a good amount for that nice corner house, then after cutting it for a couple of weeks you might just pick up 3 or 4 more houses down the street that want to look like that corner house.

    Good luck get knowledge, people on here are very helpful, well most of them are, and you can learn a ton from them.

    Thanks... sorry for the long post, im bored today
  5. Tom023

    Tom023 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 24

    Yes!, people around here are very helpful. The longer the post the better!.. thanks again and keep them coming, i really appreciate it!
  6. Swampbeast

    Swampbeast LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 463

    Tom, I am 20, started at 17. I started out by myself with my Ford F-350 and a 22 inch Yard Machines high wheel push mower for $125 and some cheapo 2-cycle equipment and about 10 yards. I now own a total of 3 crews,(half way finished buying equipment with the 4th) have my own shed for storing all the trucks and trailers, have over 110 accounts, and am doing very well.
    This is a wonderful business to get into. It really is. It is true, people love to help support the young entrapeneours (or however you spell that word) it makes them feel good to know that they are giving their money for a "good cause" as you put it, and not to some punk azz ****** with wierd hair and enough metal in thier ears to set off a magnetic mine! So harp on that feeling, let them know your planning on using this money to go to college, or start a family, something respectable.
    I know what you mean. Its not very hard to master the ZTRs and WB. Just buy a WB, that would be good. Either 52 or 48 inch, preferably a SCAG. Those are just awesome.
    Price. Look at the yard. Figure out how much money it would take to make you want to do all that work. Then add $5 and there ya go! Thats what I do, its worked pretty darn well!
    The proffesional look is important, it lets people know you careabout what your doing.
    And be respectful, nothing ticks folks off faster than an arrogant youth. (in this area, anybody under the age of 30 is a youth)

    Good luck, and have fun! Read a lot, and stay on this forum all winter! You will find lots of old farts on here that really know thier stuff, they can help with any problem you got, whether it be mowing or marriage counselling! :D

  7. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    Sure. I think if it was done right you should be able to charge prices comparable to pros in your area as long as you do everything right.

    For our clientele and market I think this means;

    1) Having a good looking set-up. Doesn't have to be new. Just sharp looking. If you have an older truck paint should be in excellent condition and I also recommend lettering it up with company name and number.

    2) Looking sharp yourself. A company uniform says a lot about your company. It gives the impression that you're already established and take pride in your company.

    3) Good presentation skills and good professional estimate sheets. You should carry a contractors clip board like this one;

    4) Professional looking business cards. Don't skimp here.

    5) Service that is high quality and 100% reliable. One of my company's best assets is that we are 100% reliable. We show up every week, on the same day, at almost the same time. I don't care if a truck's broken down and I have to rent one to get back on the road. But we never miss a scheduled mowing.

    6) Professional in your business dealings with clients. That is, you can't ask people to take you seriously if you do things like
    - insist on cash only
    - insist a client pay you each week
    - send out handwritten invoices
    - harrass customers when they are a day or two late

    Professional companies don't do those things.

    I have always just asked myself, "Would Teufel do this to one of their customers?" (Teufel being about the biggest, most respected landscape co. in my area and one of the top 100 in the nation) I have pretty much tried to emulate the way they run their business. Why mess with success?

    But, yah. I think you COULD start out charging what the big boys charge and get away with it. But you gotta be on the ball. It's the impression that the client gets of you at that first meeting that is important. It doesn't matter if you just started out and don't have any clients. They wouldn't know any better as long as you give the impression that you are already running a successful outfit.

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