Starting From Scratch In IL

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Julio Medina, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Julio Medina

    Julio Medina LawnSite Member
    from IL
    Posts: 22

    Alright, I have nothing as of right now, What will it take to start? How much money do I really need? I know how to Market and Get Customers But I Just need to know what I really should expect as far as equipment and costs etc...Advise??? Thanks

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    to be a lawn boy- about $500.
    To be a successful LCO with a profitable, growing business, about 1 years worth of living expense in the bank and at the min, about 15K for equipment with a truck--this will get you started and than plan on living cheap for a few years till you build the business and the equipment list-
  3. lsylvain

    lsylvain LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 777

    First a few words of advice when dealing with Lawnsite. Take everything you hear from people with a grain of salt. Check people's years in business and age when taking advice but even then you can never be too sure about their knowledge. You will find that in this business many people "do" before they "think".

    You sure as heck don't need to put $15,000 into this business to get started. If you already have a computer and a good color printer you are halfway there. Go down and visit your city managers office and get all the information you need about starting a business in your town then call your state taz department and find out what you need to do business in your state. You are more than likely going to have to have liability insurance in place to get your buiness licence. You should be able to get coverage for about $300 for the entire year. Once you have your licence $25.00 and insurance get some good quality paper $20.00 and make flyers and door hangers etc. Spend $50.00 on tonor/ink and print flyers until you run out. If you run out of say red ink change the colors on your flyer so they don't have any red on them and keep going until you milk every drop out of that toner. Go to and get some business cards $50.00. Now keep handing out cards and puting flyers on doors until you run out. Do this early so that you can be doing estimates and getting clients before the mowing season starts. About 2 weeks before it is time to start mowing take a good look at how many clients you have built up, how much you will bring in money wise for the year and how long it will take you to mow these jobs with a push mower, then an MTD or similar rider, then a walkbehind. compare the cost of the mower with the amount of money you will bring in. If you can't pay for the machine in at least the first year don't buy it. Remember though that if you get a rider you have to have a trailer to pull it with so you may want to just jump to a walk behind that you can ramp into the back of a truck. If you can find used mowers buy them. The only thing that I would buy brand new and get the best I could get is hand helds. This is going to run you about $1,000.00 but if you don't have the money out of the gate you can get by with the junk for a while. so you are looking at about $700.00 before any equiptment and anywhere from free to about $4,000 for equiptment. I assume you have a truck. But even if you don't I just put shocks on my brother in laws truck that he baught for $350.00. If you buy a new truck or one that you have to make payments on your are shooting yourself in the foot. If you own it you don't need full coverage insurance so you will save a ton of money there especailly if the bank forces you to put higher coverage on it because it is a commercial vehicle. If you only paid a $1,000 for it who cares if it gets totaled and you don't get your money back. You will pay $1,000 in the first year on insurance that you will never get back anyway. don't even consider a ZTR you won't have the business to pay for it your first year and I am actually in a debate right now trying to figure out if they even really save you any agrivation if you do have the business.

    Keep you current job until you get established and once you get a good client base and you can no longer keep your day job quit and get a crappy night job that basically only requires you to be a warm body.

    And most of all re read my first paragraph
  4. Prestige-Lawncare

    Prestige-Lawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 753

    I totally agree with your first statement ... as it is true in all of life. Actually, many times what helps us to be successful in anything in life is often influenced by what feedback or information we receive from others. How we use it, or choose to not use it often affects the outcome of our plans.

    With that said ... some of the other things I understand, but tend to disagree with somewhat. Starting out without somewhat of the proper tools and/or equipment, and the "other job" to fall back on, takes away some of the drive and ambition to succeed in our endeavor. If we know we have the right equipment, and the drive to compete with the best LCO's out there ... we WILL compete with them.

    I am one of those people who in all of my life image has been very important. Sometimes that can be a bad thing ... but in a business such as Lawn Care ... it's a whole lot about image.

    I guess my bottom line of advice here is ... go with the best that you can safely afford, offer top notch, quality work at a decent price, drive for success ... and chances are good you will succeed!

    I have two good friends who have gotten into this business after early retirement from their "other career" ... and both do very well. They both have good, quality equipment though they approach the business in a little different manner. One guy is a solo operator with the exception of when his son helps from time to time ... the other has 2 or 3 guys who work for him. The solo guy charges what the normal rates are around here, and stays busy enough for him ... in other words he is happy at the level of customer base he is at. The other guy obviously is busier, hence the employees ... and he charges "above normal" rates. Funny thing is ... he gets them. His image is a little more impressive (nice, clean truck ... enclosed trailer ... employees with personality) ... he asks higher rates, and gets them! He has all the business he wants as well (at his age) ... and is doing well. Story here is ... you can be what you want to be ... and for the most part, make what you want.

    I'm going full time this next spring, have my nice truck ... going to enclosed trailer and new equipment ... and NOT having my career of 31 years to fall back on. I WILL make it ... I have too! Thing is ... it's not really that I have too ... I want to as well.

    To me .... it's all about image. That is what my customers want when they hire me in the first place. I feel I even portray this in my website. Check it out ...

    Good Luck ...
  5. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I'd agree with Prestige on this one.

    I cannot fathom diving into this business without having the proper tools to do the job. By that, I mean a GOOD job.

    And from my experience, PM's 15K figure is on the mark, even low if you don't have a reliable tow vehicle. And I don't have a whole ton of equipment.

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,535

    He is saying that you should not listen to what I said because I don't know anything about business.:laugh:
  7. Shorts

    Shorts LawnSite Member
    Posts: 16

    Write yourself a solid buiness plan and stick to it. To many people in all areas of business write a business plan and edit it as they go. Get something in writing to yourself, set your goals and go out there and get it done. No business is easy if there was one that was a sure fire way to make a killing then everyone would be doing it. Set some goals and hit the road and you'll make it.

    I almost dove in a couple years ago and found that needing to finance 100% of your equipment is what makes getting off the ground tough. I saved every last penny and finally have enough to go out and pay cash, this to me will make things much easier. If you can do this you still must allocate money each month for when its time to buy some new stuff. Don't go out and make $5,000 your first month and run out and blow it. Save save save and you can't go wrong.

    Next, take a look at your competitors, notice what you like about their work and what you don't. One thing I have found around here is there are tons of guys driving around launching flyers out of a truck window wearing a tank top with a smoke hanging out of their mouth. Get some polo style shirts with your name and logo on them and go door to door with flyers introducing yourself to everyone. They may not need a lawn service but they might need a bed installed, a clean up or some other service. Your first impression is your last! Like anything else if you do good work, then more work will find you.

    Best of luck.

    I am a newbie so take all of this with a grain of salt. This is just my 2 cents on any business.

    Go get em'
  8. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I'll say this right now - there are many people on here who know their stuff, undoubtedly.

    But 3 people have stuck out like sore thumbs to me:

    PMLAWN, MMLawns, and Runner. These guys know their stuff, period. And more importantly, they know how to run a business. I've learned a lot from just reading their posts.

    Any one of these guys says something, you'd better listen.
  9. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,246

    So I guess the rest of don't know a thing.:confused:
  10. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    Did you miss reading comprehension in 3rd grade?

    Here, let me make it easy on you, I'll quote myself:


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