starting new business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Retired USAF Medic, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Retired USAF Medic

    Retired USAF Medic LawnSite Member
    Posts: 12

    Does anyone have any recommendations for the new guy wanting to start a lawncare business, i.e., equipment, trailers, licensing tips, insurance tips, start-up costs, and successful initial marketing strategies, etc. I live in Tampa, Florida. I've noticed this is a growing business and can be very productive depending on how hard a person works at it. Thank you!
    My email is also available if you have any additional suggestions, that would be helpful:
  2. yrdandgardenhandyman

    yrdandgardenhandyman LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Posts: 953

    Buy the cheapest equipment you can find, (start at your local Wal Mart.) and a station wagon with one of those pickup box frame trailers. Don't worry about insurance, licensing or taxes. Those are for chumps. As for advertising, get a bunch of paper plates, (preferably unused) and use a magic marker to write, "Low price guarantee". Put your phone # on it and nail it to mailboxes all over town. And make sure that when they call you, that you ask them how much they want to pay. That way you never get underbid and you always get the job.

    Now, hike those pants up, put on your boots and get out there and do just the opposite of what I told you. Good luck and be safe.
  3. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,164

    Thats pretty funny!
    Try to get the biggest trailer you can (you will find that you outgrow one quickly)
    Get a landscape trailer not a utility trailer, i learned that the hard way ( i had to really modify my utility trailer to work with the WB)
    Demo any mowers you are interested in to make sure you are getting the one that you want
    Advertising, Being a kid i just make up a flyer make tons of copies and go tape it to doors.
    GOOD LUCK, watch out for PITAS!!!
  4. Oldtimer

    Oldtimer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,458

    Retired USAF Medic,

    I realize that a lot of people aggressively avoid doing anything except cutting grass but as this industry matures over the next several years there will be fewer and fewer grass cutters and more and more business oriented LCOs.

    One of the most important parts of running any business is the paper work. Contact and attend their seminars. It is a known fact that 90% of the small business close during their first 5 years but the same percentage succeed when they become involved with their local Small Business Development Center.

    Anyone can cut grass but only a few can run a grass cutting business. A profitable, successful business requires a lot of emphasis on paperwork and the SBDC is the very best place to start. This was the source of information that helped my business become successful.

    Don't forget about the GIE in Orlando this year. It's close to you and if you join one of the supporting organizations and attend their meetings it will be time well spent.

  5. SunSwept

    SunSwept LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93

    I see that you are getting a lot of help! If I may add a few words. I can only tell you how I and dozens of others got started ... with a 21 inch push mower.

    Seriously, you start with one lawn and you don't need $4000 worth of equipment to do one lawn. I packed everything into the back of a minivan. As the number of customers grows then so should the caliber and quality of your equipment. Buy to much or too fast and then you could become a slave to the equipment.

    The best piece of advice I can give you would probably be: work every Saturday. You want a lot of people seeing you and how good your work is and that can happen only if they are home when you are working. It won't be long until they start walking up to you asking you to work for them.

    For someone already working, this is one of the best times to get new cutomers ... too darned hot for most of them. True, spring is a great time but there are others too. Lots of LCOs quit when it gets hot. Believe it or not, I even have gotten new customers in September.

    My number 1 customers are unmarried women. Some even have teenaged sons but they don't know how to get them to mow the lawn. My number two customer is the married man who either has bad knees from high school or college football OR who would rather play golf and just thinks of the lawn service as part of the greens fees.

    My personal perference is NO COMMERCIAL ACCOUNTS. I tried a few and talk about pain in the A$$. I have read hundreds of posts on here about LCOs loosing accounts to under-bidders. Not for me. I prefer the residential and as far as the PITAS ... well, I find out when they aren't home and that becomes their day and time that I cut (as much as I can fit it into the schedule).

    When you get to the point where you can afford it ... GET A ZTR. There is nothing like it.

    Enjoy and good luck
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    The way I started, I worked my tail off for 2-3 years delivering pizzas and washing dishes while I saved 5 thousand dollars... Thou 10 would've been better, that gave me a great head-start yet it still took 4 years until I finally was able to buy a brand-new wb and now I finally have a second backpack blower and trimmer (also 2005 models). It just takes time, you can start bigger or smaller but what the previous person said is correct - You start with 1 lawn, then you go from there so perhaps do that.

    Far as oldtimer's post about there being less and less grass-cutters, that's great news, where'd you get that from, man that means I'm going to be rolling in the dough!
  7. bigjeeping

    bigjeeping LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 903

    Get one of those new credit cards with 0% APR for 1.5 years. If they'll give you 10,000 credit line. TAKE IT AND RUN! Afterall, you got 1.5 years =)
  8. Varsity L&G

    Varsity L&G LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 418

    I am new here and have already had about enough of this guy!

    Start with the push mower and a crap rider. I did it six years ago. Stayed in it for 2 years. Ex spent every dime of it. Word traveled fast. Left mowing to go to college. Graduated got job in SC and now have been here 2 years working in a cube farm (IT office) hate every day I am there. Now ready to go out there and get some real work done. Budget is 2500.00 and so far things are looking in the right direction. Have the hook up with some local real estate agents that have tried to get others and all they get is the machine and no call backs. Local dealers say the work is there it just has to be quality work. I admit I have been out of it for sometime and will be rusty in the start but every Friday night I was out passing out flyers and I can tell you it worked in the past and will work this time, I am sure. The only difference is I now know the value of a dollar which I had no idea of back then.
  9. sarasota lawn care

    sarasota lawn care LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    saw you got a lot of advice but not all good. 3/4 to 1 ton truck, dump not needed right away, at least 20 ft trailer buy some cheap home depot cabinets and put in the front, very handy. as far as equipment stihl for hand held and blowers, easiest to work on and start. for the mower i have a 52" lesco gas, a 61" grasshopper diesel and a kubota 60" diesel. DIESEL IS THE WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!! never used my insurance so i dont know about it, i suppose as long as your inc. or llc you wont loose your shirt. get quick books for your billing, super simple. and above all if you do the best job you can you will grow. i gained 79 accounts last year alone.
    good luck
  10. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,949

    i started this year (jan 05) and what i run is a 98 frontier 4 cly auto reg cab, new trailer from lowes, 22" toro push and a 42"jd tractor. i plan to use this until i save enough for a new 48" ztr and a small 32" wb and a bigger trailer. but everybody's right start small but word of warning! GET A TRACTOR using a push on bigger property's than 1/4 acre will kill you. it did me.

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