Quite a few questions...

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by BVLAWNCARE, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. BVLAWNCARE

    BVLAWNCARE LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    Hey Guys. I just joined the forum today and its realyl great to be here. I dont want to annoy anyone with a bunch of questions right off the bat but i am very curious about some things and Im hoping you guy can help.
    Okay, a bit about me.. I am 16 and ive been in this business since I was in 6th grade. I started with a Craftsman push mower, now I have an edger, weed wacker, blower, lawn mower, 4'x6' trailer, a 1962 John Deere 140, and a JD Lawnmower. I quit the bussiness my freshamn year in highschool and now im almost a junior and I started her back up again this spring. I was able to buy a 2003 Dodge Dakota EXT cab. The payments are high and im in charch of the payments, insurance, and gas ect... Im not ready to work outside my neighborhood yet until I get my license. So basicly im still working in my nice little neighborhood.

    Now my ?s'.... Okay Ive been ripped off quite a few times and i made up a contract and policy. For some reason im having problems giving them to people. I dont know why iI just cant seem to want to give them contracts as if I dont trust them. But I also dont want to be ripped off. What should I do about that?
    Also, I take care of weeds also, and I was just wondering what I should charge those folks who wnat to me pull weeds from their garden or hand pull those pesky dandiliions from their yards? Should I charcghe like $.25 per weed or what?
    Also, Im looking at buying either a bigger riding mower or a commercial lawn mower and Im tied down with the truck payments. Shoud I wait till I get more clients or should I use some money Ive saved up to buy it. Cash or payments?
    And finally Do i really have to spend $$ to make $$? I dont have to much yet. MY goal is by winter, to have steady clients and to be able to have a nice 6x10 trailer for my new truck...

    Hope I didnt bore you! Im sry for all the info and questions.. All help will be a huge help!! Thanks all

    ;)
     
  2. EagleLandscape

    EagleLandscape LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Garland, Texas
    Posts: 4,347

    Man, I wish I could get 25 cents a weed:) I'd be making 10 bucks a minute or so:) Estimate how long it will take you to weed the flower beds, and then apply your hourly rate to it. A good rate for you sounds like 30-45 bucks an hour if you work hard.

    Its up to you if you want to buy a trailer on credit or pay cash. I pay cash for all my expenses, except for my truck which is financed. It's all up to you if you want to be in debt or not.

    My suggestion is, is to write out a list of where you want to be by the end of the year, and then divide it up into 2 week sections and set goals for each of those 2 weeks to help you get to your final goal.

    Hope this helps, if you have any questions feel free to PM me.
     
  3. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    Impressive that you are willing and able to put some thought into a business at your age. A couple of things I'd suggest - lower your debt. Anything you can do with your truck to get a less expensive one? 2nd, as was suggested to you in the previous post - build a business plan. Write down what you want to accomplish, and how you plan on getting there. 3rd, I wouldn't spend a bunch of money on a new mower until you know you have customers. But then it's kind of hard to get customers if you don't have the equipment - kind of a catch 22. You might look for a good used walkbehind that doesn't cost you too much. Then as you add yards and grow, you can start looking at trading it in for a ZTR. As for what to charge for pulling weeds, (trimming shrubs, etc.) you need to figure an hourly charge. Two things to consider on your hourly charge - 1) what's the going market rate, 2) what's your cost of business per hour. To figure the 2nd, figure out what all your costs are and divide by the number of hours you expect to work per year. Don't forget the cost of fuel (for your truck as well as the mower), the cost of the mower - once you buy one, any advertising costs you may inccur, etc. Then figure out how many weeks per year you can work in your area, figure out how many days per week and how many hours per day. Once you have your costs for the year, and hours for the year, you can divide the 2 to figure out what it cost you per hour to operate. It should be much less than full time operators. Then you can price your services by the hour somewhere between your costs/hour and the going market rate.
    Confused now?

    Randy
     
  4. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    randy gave some bad advice, and i'll tell you why. if you base your prices on operating costs, this is what will happen: since you are part time, and have no real expenses to speak of yet, your operating costs are minimal, does this mean you should charge less than "the going rate?" if you do, and u land 30-40 accounts, and then get better equipment, ins, permits, etc, your operating costs will go up substantially, now what? raise everybody's fee alot? you'll lose them all. here is my advice: since you don't rely on this income to support yourself, you can be more choosy about what you do and for how much. find out "the going rate", do an exceptional job, and charge 5-10% MORE than "the going rate." also, make policies and contracts, AND STICK TO YOUR GUNS on them. don't "ASK" anyone to sign a contract, DEMAND that they do. it's the only way to do business.
     
  5. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    Reread my post there Bobby, I told him to find out what the market rate is and his charges should be between his cost/hour and the going market rate. I think he does need to know what his cost/hour is, same as any business person should. If nothing else it's good practice for the future. Besides, you're assuming what his costs are.
    Man I hate when people reply without reading.

    Randy
     
  6. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    i thought i was on your ignore? man, i hate when people lie. still, bad advice. everyone does need to know his operating cost, but prices should not reflect this.
     
  7. BVLAWNCARE

    BVLAWNCARE LawnSite Member
    Posts: 88

    I'd really like to thank everyones support and help in my future and im my business which (though ive had it for some years now) Im basiclly starting from scratch again. I can see that these things can get very complicated and with taxes and all even more complicated... At any rate, thanks to all who helped me and Im sure with this forum I can create a successful business. Thanks folks!
     
  8. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    Um, yeah ok.
     
  9. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    yes randy, i am correct. you are putting the cart before the horse. example: let's say i start a business, invest $50,000 in startup, but have only 5 clients, who's properties on the open market are priced on average at $30 per cut. should i base thier fees on my operating costs? ok, fine. what the others are charging $30 a cut for, i'll charge $500 a cut, cus my operating costs are high. i'll be out of business before i start. now, to put the "horse before the cart" and do it properly, your prices shouldn't be based on your operating costs, instead, your operating costs should be based on your customer base and your prices! try to follow me randy
     
  10. Randy J

    Randy J LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    Maybe Bobby, but if you charge less per hour than your hourly costs to operate, you'll be out of business before long anyway. I'd rather go out of business without having to work then mow a bunch of lawns for free and then go out of business. If you can't get in the business, cover your costs and make a little money all while charging approximately what others are charging, then you should be looking for another business to get into.
    You can't base your cost of doing business on customers and your income - if that were possible, no one would ever go out of business. Your costs are what your costs are. Try to follow me on this.
     

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