Starting out Advise

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Hookset, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. Hookset

    Hookset LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    I just can't get over the number of people starting a lawn buisness with out any experence or knowledge. This is my seventh year and I have learned more from this site in the last three months than I've learned my entire six years. I've heard people say, "Anyone can cut grass." If that were the case I wouldn't have so much trouble finding help. I noticed one guy went out bought a mower with a 72" deck and a echo 650 back pack blower. He has no clients, just got tired of office work and decided he would cut grass. First of all where will you put that 72" deck, secondly what will you use that big blower for. You can throw the money into the business if you want but your headed for failure. This is dirty, hard, hot, back-breaking work to start with. You can't even make a dent without breaking your back a little. If you make it to the point you don't have to break your back, then the real headaches start, scheduling and employee problems. You better gain the experence, and really love the work, I mean really love the work before you jump with both feet. Odds are you will be asked a question by a home owner that you can't answer and if can't you better know where to find it or you will end up looking like a fool and trying to find another client. TO ALL THOSE STARTING OUT GOOD LUCK. AND IF YOU LOVE THE WORK JOIN THE CROWD. Sorry for the long post.
  2. stslawncare

    stslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    from DE
    Posts: 1,484

    yes there are a lot of people starting out and i think its great, however i agree some people are getting ahead of themselves. good luck to everyone
  3. grebwv

    grebwv LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    Hi Hookset,

    Loved the advice. Guess from my perspective, the back breaking work part is what turns most people off. I agree with you.

    I am going at it from another route. Selling, managing and finances. I have hired someone that will be running the crew. I am focusing in on building a business, not a job.

    IMHO, I have had jobs. I don't want another. What I want is a machine. One that I control, but not one that I work in. I am focusing on building the business, not on doing the manual aspects.

    Yes, this will get me flamed. And I mean no disrespect to people. It has been my experience in life that a lot of people work on being the chef, even after they open their own restaruant, and not on building the rest of the business.

    And I know that you have to deliver a quality product. And you have to know what that product is about. But unless you get in there and start, you will never know if you could have had your own company or not.

    So, I woke up one day and went for it. I'll either crash and burn, or grow this to the image I have in my mind (and on paper).


  4. Mykster

    Mykster LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 668

    In my area it was hard trying to get hired on with a LCO unless you already got 2yr. min. experience. I tried right out of high school with no luck. Seems they just don't want to take the time to train that person. So how are you suppose to get the experience if they won't give it to you. How many of you would actually hire someone with no experience what so ever? With past jobs I've had there have been things at every job I wanted to learn(running heavy equipment etc.)but noone would train me. So I trained myself and it worked out great. If nobody will give you experinece you have to make it yourself. Trial by fire. I also agree that people get ahead of of themselves, I know I did when I first started. IMHO I also think that everybody that goes into business for themselves bites off a little to much when they first start, or they think am I doing the right thing? Hope everyone does well.
  5. sheppard

    sheppard LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 542

    Morning Hookset,

    Different strokes for different folks. I wanted to get into this business BECAUSE of the back braking work- sat at a desk for too many years- also sat in the car way too long. Was not tired at the end of the day and was getting fatter by the month.

    At he end of my first year in this business I've met my revenue goals, almost met my diversification spread (commercial to residential) and am picking up my ztr this week.

    Now I sleep better than I can ever remember, am building a business to pass on to my son, and vaving more fun that a 46 y/o man should expect to have.

    I've made it an inviolate goal to be on site on all the jobs my Co. does (either full time or to do the QC). Still plan on having fun. Why? Because this work beats the hell out of selling software for a large company any day of the week!!!

  6. TGMC

    TGMC LawnSite Member
    Posts: 6

    Well said, Sheppard!
  7. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    No offense intended, but I couldn't disagree more with your philosophy on getting into this business. Why? Well, first of all, there are much more lucrative businesses to be in if you want to be a traditional businessman, concentrating on sales, accounting, etc, etc...the business end.

    Also, It'd be difficult in reality to hire someone to manage the day to day stuff. If they were any good, they'd probably be out on their own or working for a more established business.

    Again, no offense, I'm one of em in a way , but generally you're going to find a more stimulating and interesting and stable work force in some other field. There aren't many "career" lawn care employees. One great part of having employees is working with them. I just think working with 28 y/o secretaries in an office might be preferable to working with 18 y/o former fast food workers and immigrants. No offense to those who are starting out, I once worked for someone else (about 3 months was all it took to surpass his knowledge) , but let's be realistic. You're not going to find stellar work ethic in many of your staff. You're going to have constant turnover and deal with lots more problems. Just be prepared.

    The financial reality required to allow you to sit back selling and developing while others manage and do the work means you'll have to be big. Very big. Margins aren't high. You'll run big losses for a while until you reach breakeven. You'll need about $12,000+ per crew to equip them well. And you may need 4 or 5 crews to make a living, minimum. And today's economy isn't the best time to start up in landscaping, especially when tons of established, experienced landscapers aren't busy with new work and are looking to do maintenance to fill in. How do you expect to offer a competitive advantage?

    Finally, unless you get in the trenches and learn by doing, you will never really know how to bid accurately on jobs, you will never know just how much work really can be done in a day, and hence how efficient your crews really are. You also won't learn the little nuances about how landscapes are.

    I was a small business/entreprenuership major in college. They couldn't stress enough to us that it's tough out there unless you find the proper niche, and a basic rule of economics is that there is only one "pie" of profits in each field, and eventually so many people join that field that the "pie" slice you get is pretty thin. It's better to find a niche that isn't being filled and take advantage of that. I just don't think going for big commercial is the way to approach it. When builders and property managers are getting half a dozen bids already, I don't see how they need another one.
  8. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    I think a lot of people would hire the "RIGHT" inexperienced person for the job. The problem is they've probably been burned a lot by guys who show up, draw a week's pay, then vanish, and produce almost nothing. I've had guys take a job, seem enthusiastic, then never show up for the job at all. I've also had people just quit and never bother to pick up a last paycheck.

    I suggest that anyone who wants a job bad enough approach a company and suggest that they agree to work for minimum wage for a month, and only if they last past that do they collect the amount over minimum for those weeks. This way you're taking the risk, not the business owner.

    I would pay another "me" $30,000 a year to start. It'd be a bargain. I wouldn't pay a lot of guys out there $10,000. The key is to show that you're a $30K guy, not a $10K one.

    There's almost always a creative way around things if you way it bad enough.
  9. goodbeus

    goodbeus LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 392

  10. Hookset

    Hookset LawnSite Member
    Posts: 128

    How can you properly train an employee for a job if you have no experence? If a lot of the ideas presented here work, then most of us maybe sitting on the unemployment line in a couple years or have to work with a franchise lawn company for half of what we now earn. Frankly I work for myself that's why I'm in the buisness.
    There are a lot of successful lawn companies out there who are down sizeing simple because it is more profitable to them.
    Just how big can you get and expect to keep satisfied customers?

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