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Starting off small,with big dreams...

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by CJL, May 21, 2008.

  1. CJL

    CJL LawnSite Member
    from MI
    Posts: 21

    I'm interested in starting a lawn care business (you guys prolly get 2 of these kind of threads a week:laugh:), I don't know everything about the business(as i'm still reading & learning) but I know the basics.

    Anyway my plan is to buy a 4cyl Ford Ranger and somehow haul (2) 19" or 21" push mowers,1-2 weed whackers and a blower in the bed. I plan on doing small residential properties at first just to get my feet wet. After i get settled in and financially comfortable,my plan is to get a F-150 to pull a trailer full of better equipment.:D

    My main worry is that i dont know if i could be taking seriously driving up with a pickup full of push lawn mowers in the bed. If people does not take me serious and give me a chance to prove my work, i will never get started in this biz.

    I'm just trying to make use of what i got and not get head over heels in debt trying to get the top of the line equipment before i even got my first account.

    Im just looking for some feedback,opinions,thoughts from the people who's already in the business...

    Thanks for the help

  2. LushGreenLawn

    LushGreenLawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,121

    Alright, there are alot of guys on this site that are going to bash you for what you posted. Before they do that let me say this...

    Yes, A ford ranger with some equipment in the back can look unprofessional. However, if you keep it clean, keep your equipment strapped down so its not rolling around, and mabye have some racks for your handheld equipment you can make it look as good as you can. As a matter of fact, there is a well known company that operates with small pickups and 21" mowers, and they do very well.

    Learn as much as you can, and act professional when talking to potential clients. Run your business like a business, not like its something you do on the side.

    Develop solid business plan, search google, there are numerous website that will help you do this. Trust me, this will help you more than you think.

    Make sure that you are not underpriced, that is one of the biggest mistake sstarting out, PAY YOUR TAXES, get insurance, and find out what the licensing requirements are in your state, and get what you need.

    I understand that you can't buy the best equipment when starting out, and in all honesty, buying a commercial 21" is not as important as buying, say, a commercial ZTR vs. a Homeowner one. I would at least get something like a Toro or Lawnboy with the Personal Pace System. I have the lawnboy version, and it has lasted me, although I only use it for small residential back yards with gates.

    I would consider commercial handheld equipment starting out, the homeowner models typically will not last for half the season. Go to your local Echo dealer, and look at the $199 straight shaft trimmers and their handheld blower. DO NOT buy these from Home Depot. You will pay the same price at your dealer, and the dealer will service his customers before Big Box Customers.

    Take your time and start when you have all of your ducks in a row. Jumping in too quickly is a recipe for disaster.

    Welcome to the industry.
  3. Merlin300

    Merlin300 LawnSite Member
    from Zone 5
    Posts: 156

    My first bit of advice would be. Quit calling trimmers, weedwackers. A big pet peeve of mine. If you call it weed wacking in your advertisement, that is way more unprofessional than a Ranger with 21's in the back.

    Good luck with your start up. As you know, things in Michigan are in the crapper. I would not be starting a LCO at this time, in this economy. With alot of hard work and even more ambition you can maybe get things going.
  4. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 778

    You should have started a couple months ago unless you really really want to start small (code for no work) basically, everyone that wants a decent service all ready has one. Not saying you can't get any work but the pickings are much slimmer.
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,776

    A part-time job will help too. Try to find something in the evenings and at night. I used to clean office buildings in the evening. I found that even starting out small you'll have a lot of little expenses that add up quickly, and you always need to pay the bills.

    I'm finally, after 3 years, in a position where I have enough equipment, truck/trailer is paid off, and have aquired enough small tools and inventory that I dropped the part time job. Now, hopefully not too soon, I might be looking into employees.

    Patience is a virtue, and don't forget to get out there and pound the pavement.

    Any good business book will tell you that it takes 5 years to establish a business. Right now, I'm on-target or a little ahead of that goal.
  6. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,001

    I ran my business in So California with a pickup and a 21" snapper mower. Your cool and with gas prices I think alot of fellers will be going this route. Do buy commerical equiptmentt and if you do 1 mower will be fine. Also get some cables and keep your equiptment LOCKED
  7. bill8379

    bill8379 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 778

    I thought it was, "It takes 5 years to go out of business" :confused:
  8. Liendeni

    Liendeni LawnSite Member
    Posts: 218

    Its "Only 1 out of 20 businesses make it to the 5 year mark, and only 1 out of 20 of those make it another 5 years." Basically, on average 95% of businesses fail before the five year mark....and out of that 5% that does make it.....95% of those can't make it to the 10 year mark. That is an actual statistic....not one I made up. So....you long term guys have obviously done something right!
  9. mobileboy

    mobileboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233


    Just my opinion, but I wouldn't waste time and money on the Ranger if you plan to grow in the next couple of years, try and target areas where you can get several accounts to limit driving distance and go ahead and get an older f150. I say this because 4-cyl rangers are in high demand right now and finding a great deal will be tough. 8-cyl f150's on the other hand are languishing on lots all over the place. You can get a steal on a good 8 cyl truck if you play hard ball. Why limit your potential for 4 MPG? You'll be looking for a utility trailer and rider very soon if you're serious about this.
  10. mobileboy

    mobileboy LawnSite Member
    Posts: 233

    Oh yeah; one more thing. You said you were worried about people giving you a chance. Don't worry. keep at it and someone will give you a chance. The most important thing you can do is impress the hell out of them when they do. ALWAYS give them something extra for free! If you see a landscape brick that's out of place...replace and reset it. If they have a bag of old leaves thrown against the house, offer to take it with you. People can't get enough of that stuff. Exceed their expectations! Word of mouth is your best friend in any service industry. That's how you keep 'em calling. It has worked wonders for me in the past. Good luck!

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