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Starting on a shoestring budget

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BBL, May 22, 2007.

  1. BBL

    BBL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    Hi all, I have worked for tru-green chemlawn for about 4yrs(aerations/sales) and just quit a landscaping company recently. after being unsatisfied with my previous boss(he had 1 guy there, that could total 5 trucks, almost kill a lady and still work there! talk about job security!) I have been comtemplating if I should even bother with a landscaping company, but have decided it may well be worth it.

    however, I have barley any start up money and wondering if I could get away with just a 21", Trimmer, & an edger and build up from there. There is no way in hell I can afford(or finance) a turf tracer or a lazer rider at this time, so it will kind of limit the size of jobs I can take on. around here there are some pretty small lawns, but I also want to add professional lines which isn't going to happen with just a 21" so that may cost me some needed customers.

    anyway sorry for the rambling. I am wondering about how much roughly should I need to start up? I am thinking of just buying residental spec mowers at home depot or something and use them until they croak and then upgrade later. is that a good/bad idea?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    that's a wonderfull Ideal......

    most of us " if not all" HAVE TO TARGET OUR CIUSTOMERS.... you with a 21"
    will only want average size homeowners. 1/4 acer. run an ad in the paper and pass out flyers. in about 3 to 4 weeks you will be turning down work.

    Find someone " a company " in your area that does larger mowing. and tell him what you are doing. introduce your self to him and try to get him as a mentor.... ASK him that when and if you get calls for larger jobs can you refer the customer to him.... "he wont turn you down" and ask him to to the same for you... ask him if it's ok if you can use him as a mentor....most people will jump at this chance. and ask him when things are slow for you can you work for him.... here and there.....

    once you start this relashionship you will be amazed. dont worrie about adding some professional lines. almost any 21" mower will have a striper on it useally it's a plastic rock guard and you can add some weight to it. to make it better than the next guy's, Your mentoe will tell you what type of advertisement will work in the area, who to talk to and such....

    a Mentor has a proven track record, and he has allready made the costly mistakes, he will also already have a customer list to give you... these will be some that he didn't want for what ever reason. useally because he's too big to mess with them.... he knows who's looking for someone " a lawn guy" and who is a PITA customer. when you have 3 to 4 man crews cutting large appartments and such. it just dont pay to cut a homeowner for 40 to 50 a cut. because they dont have 21" mowers.... he " your mentor" gill get calls almost every week wanting this and he can pass it along to you...

    Good luck
  3. BBL

    BBL LawnSite Member
    Posts: 48

    Thanks for the tips bohiaa . As far as running ads, and forgive my ignorance here, but can I just put "my lawn care co." on a flyer and send them out or do I have to register the name/business first even if it's just for a few accounts? I want everything to be 100% legit, even if it's just a small weekend side job. I also don't want to make up a name and find out I am getting sued from another business for having the same name hehe.

    Thanks again,
  4. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 2,994

    You could just stick a name on a flyer. BUT, that isn't very legit. You need to register your business with your county and/or city....everywhere is different so you will need to do some research. You will also need liability insurance. It is not as expensive as you may think. Do your research and do this legit! Also, charge enough to actually make money. A business plan is also a necessity for success. Search around on this site for a while, it is loaded with info.
  5. racer56

    racer56 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 285

    Don't forget about the non-compete that you signed before you got your first paycheck with TG. They busted a guy bad here locally for going out on his own. Not sure how long the agreements are but I would check it out first.
  6. ArkansasLawns

    ArkansasLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93


    Not to worry guy. I started out with just a craftsman 21 push and a hand held blower. I lucked out and bought a weedeater that was double sided( two strands not just one) that was the best piece of equipment I started with.

    Mow on the diagonal and back and fourth for a nice professional cut. Look a baseball field on TV and see for yourself how cool it looks. Mulch the grass unless the customer wants it bagged but remember that bagging is extra $$$.

    I ran an ad in the local paper for $17 a week for two weeks. Bingo, word of mouth will keep you busy if you do quality work.

    Like Frank Sanatra said, "I did it my way".

    Stay positive, stay hydrated and be happy to work for yourself.
  7. racer56

    racer56 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 285

    Please don't advise 17.00 per lawn. Already enough lowballers in the biz. don't need another one. Gas prices are a premium right now and they all stick together as far as price. Not one of them is dumb enough to really drop the price just to get business. Might learn soething from that... but I doubt it :hammerhead: .
  8. ArkansasLawns

    ArkansasLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 93


    That was the price of the ad in the paper. Ha! Ha!

    What part of Kansas? I was born and raised there. Lived in Derby for 35 years.
  9. mirrorlandscapes

    mirrorlandscapes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 79

    Go for it, that's how I started out. In fact I used my dad's 20" and (believe it or not) hand held grass scissors. (that didn't last long) I moved to an electric weed wacker and then finally to a gas.

    Skip the edger, you don't need it. Even now with 60 accounts and a full time mowing crew, I still don't own one. I don't edge enough to justify buying one, just rent one.

    Save your money from your first lawns and slowly build. Next move to a walk behind or used Z rider, but dont' waste money on regular riding mower, way too slow.

    Good luck. Work hard, be honest and dependable and you'll do great.
  10. racer56

    racer56 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Kansas
    Posts: 285

    S.W. Missouri area now.

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