Trying to make $$$ as a solo act

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Brian M, Feb 25, 2004.

  1. Brian M

    Brian M LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 94

    Looking for advice from all the solo acts out there.
    How do you make a living doing just weekly lawn maintenance by yourself?
    How many accounts can you handle a week?
    Seems like if your lucky enough to get 50-60 accounts a week you'd be able to make some decent $$$ but your working your a$$ off. And what happens if you get alot of rain for several days each week, do you cut in the rain and spread disease and ruin lawns or do you try to do 100-120 lawns the following week which is impossible and gets to the point I'm trying to make!
    How do you make $$$ as a solo act?????????????
    If you’re in the Northeast as I am, how many weeks are you cutting on average per year?
    I'm going into my second year in the Lawn care biz and have only 30 or so accounts and I stay pretty busy except when it rains, call me stupid but I don't cut when it rains, the ground was mush last year with all the rain we had and even several days after the rain had stopped I found alot of the lawns were still mush and I left some nasty tire tracks on those lawns.
    How do you continue to work in the rain and not mess up the lawns?
    And if you do hold off when it rains, how do you get to those customers if you have 50-60 a week and it just rained 3 days in a row???
    I'd love to know the secret.
    Realistically 40 lawns a week seems like a good average for a solo act, right?
    So if you get on average $30 a lawn your talking $1200 a week, which sounds ok but how many weeks is it for, 24 or 25 in CT is the way I see it, and that is stretching it because mid summer it slows down to every other week, but lets still say 25 and that breaks down to $30k, and I know I’m not including the spring and fall cleanups and snow removal because they vary and I don’t see all my customers needing either nor myself being able to do all of them either. So how are some of you doing $60k and up each year?
    So what am I missing, what’s the secret to making $$$ as a solo act?????
  2. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    I'm not solo anymore but I have been there. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions. The main question I see you having is the rain. When it rains, and you aren't able to cut I would schedule out the lawns you missed from the day to the next couple of days. If I rains for several days in a row you will just have to put them on your route and do them the following week on the day you normally would. These problems don't just effect solos, but everyone. I get backed up when rain hits us just like you do. I have learned to only do as much as we can handle and not stress over the rest. One thing I would recommend to you, cut back on some of the lawns and concentrate on doing things around the ones that you have. I have found that many of my customers will keep my busy if I ask, doing many things through out the year. I have also found that if I max out on yards, then I have to give up something else which would be things as "the extras" I mentioned around the yards. I know I am rambling but I hope this helps.
  3. jajwrigh

    jajwrigh LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Martinsville, IN
    Posts: 1,405

    I am only part-time, but I still make good money! I don't think there is a secet per say, but there are some things you need to pay attention to. First of all, keep your overhead low. No one is going to reap a lot of profit if they spend all of their income on bills. Are you full time? Depending on your financial situation what you may consider good money the next guy may not and vice versa. A lot of your "measured" success is all relative to the views you hold...
  4. Brian M

    Brian M LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 94

    Thanks for the replies guys, I'm a bit surprised that I only got two replies on this subject, I was expecting alot more from the veterans on this site, Oh well, guess the secret is safe with them!!!
    Guess if I posted something about who we should vote in as President I would have gotten more replies.
    I must be on the wrong site!
  5. MudslinginFX4

    MudslinginFX4 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,170

    Brian, you've got to give it time and I guarantee you will have over 20 replies. Don't give up on lawn site, it's the best out there!
  6. Brian M

    Brian M LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 94

    I know it is ECM, I'm just try to wake up the Vets on this site so they'll give me some more input on this issue, which I'm sure alot of guys new to the biz are going through.
    It was also the only way I know to get back on top, LOL!
  7. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,137

    As a solo act last year, I had 75 customers. I did them mostly by myself. Occassionally I had help from my former partner when I got backed up. In theory, 75 a week translates to 15 a day, 5 days a week. Which leaves 2 catch up days if it rains. For the most part, I was able to hit that 15 a day mark by busting my butt. I don't mow in the rain, either. But rarely does it rain all day, and usually you can get something done on a rain day. With all the rain we had last year, I was behind quite a bit even with the makeup days. When it rains, you just gotta do your best and muddle through. Sometimes you end up skipping people and/or working longer hours.

    75 customers a week was fine income for me, and I could continue on with that number and earn a good living. But, I'm only getting older and I'm always interested in working less. So I am going to the next step and getting into hiring people, etc. I am also looking to expand into different areas and gain more $ from extras and side work. Working smarter, not necessarily harder.

    My advice to you is to make sure you are making a maximum amount of $ per hour, keep your expenses low, and work as hard as you can. Streamline and make yourself efficient. Thankfully I had 7 years in business as a partnership before I had to go solo, so I had a lot of stuff figured out before I had to do it on my own last year.
  8. mowinmoney

    mowinmoney LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 70

    At the peak of my solo days I had 92 accts. The most challenging aspect was scheduling around the weather. I found being flexible with my schedule was the key. I knew it wouldn't be that tough forever because I had reached the point where I knew help was around the corner. I had all the equipment I needed so I was very efficient.(exmark 72",52", 48"wb, all the trimmers and blowers) Everything was down to the minute because running a solo is based on your time and you only have so much. Keep things simple and your routes tight and it will work. The one thing I wish I would have had was an enclosed trailer that I could have kept everything in. Loading and unloading every day was the only function that I considered wasted time when I was finished being a solo. About 2.5 hours a week by the time I got home from the storage unit. ($150 of time each week) Tried tarps at night but that was a pain. There were days where I had to finish commercial jobs under their bright lights, in fact I got to the point where I started scheduling them like that because I didn't have to worry about cars and people stopping to talk.

    Your question on the rain. Just be willing to do what it takes to get the job done. I had about 15 lawns that i could mow when it was wet. The others I couldn't do, and keep the level of quality up. i never really ran into 3 days of no production so I cant offer advice there. I watched the weather channel religiously and if I saw rain coming I made sure I worked as much as possible before it came. Also I only scheduled work on 5 days Tues-Sat, this left Sun/Mon to catch up. Good luck and if you can get the enclosed trailer unless you have a storage building on site.
    Today is a different story...but I remember the days, they were challenging and it really makes me appreciate what we have today...
  9. Brian M

    Brian M LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 94


    Those #s are staggering 75 & 92 customers a week for solo acts!
    I'd be afraid to take on that many weekly accounts!
    I hear what you guys are saying about streamlining and being efficient with my time, that's something that comes with experience I guess? I too found myself wasting lots of time each day loading and unloading the truck and trailer, I think the enclosed trailer is a great idea and something I'll look into in the near future, but for this coming year I plan on putting up a temporary garage\canopy to park the trailer under to keep the equipment dry, as far as it being safe from the criminals that's what the dog and my Smith & Wesson are for!!!
    Enclosed trailer or not, if someone wants someting you have a little old padlock on the trailer won't keep them out!
    But an alarm system might scare them away, anyways
    thanks for the good advice guys, and please keep it coming!

  10. ACut AboveLandscapin

    ACut AboveLandscapin LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42

    I do about 75 accounts a week with my solo operation. Some properties up to 3 - 4 Acres. There are a few things that are a must, Keep a tight route, driving around is not making you money. The key is don't waste time. And have the right equipment. Rider is a must, I have a 52 Lazer. Might get a 60 Rider and 36 Stander this year to pick up productivity. Also all the other equipment I need. If I need something that will save me time, I buy it no questions asked. I think I could do up to 100 a week by myself. I am also 27 years young. You have to be willing to work hard to make good money by yourself.

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