seeking wise counsel

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by RScapes, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. RScapes

    RScapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    Great story-especially the investment of time with the family!
     
  2. RScapes

    RScapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    Thank you sir for the tips.

    I spoke with a homeowner who has 3 acres of mowing. Haven't looked at it yet, but will look soon. He said it was flat with only a few small trees. The property is only 10 minutes from me. Unless there are surprises that I may not have been made aware of, how would you suggest a solo operator price this (using the 52" Toro walk behind)?
     
  3. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Posts: 555

    I personally don't cut large properties, I stay under 1 acre. I did grow up running a local tournament softball fields organizations, although I still haven't been able to get their contract because a large company whom I am friends with hasn't raised their price in 5 years. They charge $400 per cut for 7 acres and that is dirt cheap. The minimum you should try to charge is $45 an hour, according to this site. I would say that you would most likely be around $200, on flat, smooth(fast) ground.

    Everyone will tell you a different price, those are good starting points and figure out what you need to do. I use to always use google maps to see the property before I drive there so I have an idea what I am going to be looking at, now that I have this measuring site it's even better.

    Use this site to measure your properties, don't forget to subtract house and driveway. 43,560 sq ft per acre.

    http://servicevines.com/jobs/measureit

    -Michael
     
  4. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    This is were you need to start considering your area and intended clients. The nice part about this type of account is you only would need a few of them. You are not going to do more than 2 in a day like that. The downside is that if someone stiffs you than you stand to be affected more so than if you were doing all $50 lawns. Another benefit is reduced drivetime. It takes a while to get a route that is tight and efficient. A lot of guys lose hours in the day driving between accounts. A 52"WB is not great for 3 acres, but will work. The thing is do you want to setup for acreage accounts or do you want to deal with smaller lawns in the inner parts of town. With 8 of those large accounts you would be working 30-35 hrs a week and sell about 40K in the season. (See above, this is not your personal net which will be significantly less than this number.) Those accounts typically pay less per square foot than smaller accounts. If you could get $180 per mow would be acceptable for your setup, but if your area is saturated than expect the soliciting offers to be about half of that. Best bet is to talk to the client and see where they are at with budget, needs, etc.
     
  5. RScapes

    RScapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    Thank you sir!
     
  6. RScapes

    RScapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 21

    Yes this this is one of my target areas for clients. In a perfect world, my first spring, all of my accounts would be here, just 10-15 minutes away. But......I know that won't be reality, at least the first year. It is however, part of the 2 or 3 year goal/plan.

    With that said, in order to get established in that area, should I price slightly lower (at least for year 1)? The neighbors would see my sign, see the work, and hopefully hear positive things from the initial clients with the goal of attracting more clients in the target area? This area consists of homes in the ($230 to $400,000 range) and lots from about 1 to 4 acres.

    In this area, the economy, competition, do it yourself homeowners with their own quality equipment, etc., puts this 3 acre job (mentioned above)in more of the $75-$95 per mow range (from what I am hearing).

    Thanks for all of your advice!
     
  7. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    Perhaps than you should reconsider that account even it potentially stands to be your first. You are looking at 4 hours to mow if the grass is decent quality. Grossing sub $25/hr will lose you money real fast. You would be better getting a job at the local box store.

    The other thing is the neighbors will see your sign and they will see your work, but whether they call will depend more on your appearance than not. By that I mean if you appear inexperienced, new, or hacky you will draw in the snakes, if you appear professional, and dare I say expensive you will get far less solicitations but the quality of them will be far greater. I'm not sure that there is a lawn in this country that has not been solicited, and if your area is saturated than they get many and know exactly what the potential range is. If you go in low to be low than you will have a very hard time raising prices later. Furthermore, most quality clients will already have a service and generally will not entertain low offers. This leaves the bottom clients to fill the low priced route. These clients are the late payers, PITA's, and cut me every 2 weeks every 4 in the summer type. It is hard to make a living on these types of clients.

    Now if you are lower than the competition because you are lean and efficient than that is a good thing for you. This is not lowballing. The trick though is to know exactly what your costs are. For example you can cut the neighborhood for $40 a lawn because you are already there if you have enough. Those same 10 lawns spaced 5 miles apart each would need maybe $50 to net you the same because of lost time due to travel and fuel, etc. Lowballing is if the market price is $100 and you come in at $50 knowing it is below cost to force out the competition. Sometimes this happens with inexperience as well. Some people seek these contractors because when the company goes under there will always be a another new guy to take their place. I suggest you stay away from this all together.
     
  8. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    Rscapes send me a PM with your email address if you want me to look at your business plan or budget. I'm checking out here.
     
  9. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Posts: 555

    Use the link I sent you to make sure it's 3 acres, because a lot of people say one size and it's really another. I know several of my customer's would rather see a properly dressed landscaper with nice equipment mowing their lawn, but their are plenty of people who just want the huge company with 3-4 hispanics on a crew and they are in and out of there in 45 minutes.

    It's all about figuring out what your client is looking to get out of his landscaper. Does he want someone who is gonna cruise over his lawn and just get it done? Or does he want someone who does that extra step to make sure everything is perfect and the weeds are out of the mulch beds and that a piece of paper isn't run over in the yard?

    -Michael
     
  10. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Posts: 7,961

    Who says you can not have both? :hammerhead:
     

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