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Very new, need some advice

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by onrasr, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. onrasr

    onrasr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    I am an office worker, always have been. Currently out of work and having difficulty finding something for last few months.

    A friend of mine has a lawn-care route he is about to abandon, said i can take over if i want it. I'd just need to get equipment. The route is 26 houses. Mostly cut-n-run small work, avg $40-$75 per house. Some larger ones a bit more. I dont know the details yet. He mentioned the route can be done in 2-3 days typically, and makes about $500-$700 per week.

    Figure i can grab a 32" belt drive, and few other small pieces, and be all set. Id then just need a truck i suppose.

    Then comes the nitty-gritty details...
    - Currently he is 100% illegal. Do i incorporate? get license for the city?
    - He is under the radar, pays no taxes. How long do i attempt this? (NY)
    - How soon do i look to pickup "backup equipment" in case of breakdowns?
    - Where to keep equipment during winter?
    - How easy is it to expand the business?
    - How much can i handle alone, when to consider hiring a helper?
    - I know he undercut to obtain some homes, do i attempt an increase?
    - Do i even begin thinking about winter months (snow removal)? (added equipment expense)

    I just learned of the opportunity to take over his accounts tonight, so much going through my head. I can find a way to lay out the money for the equipment, but being out of work with 2 little kids at home, the time is more valuable right now. What i mean is, lets say it takes a year for me to get up and going and worse case it doesnt make enough ... i just wasted a year out of the job market, a year of not making real money, etc.

    Any advice on what i can be thinking about?

    Thank you all
     
  2. twomancrew

    twomancrew LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 945

    Sorry about your bad luck. Better stop what your thinking now before you make it worse for your family.

    If you really want to do this than go work for the biggest outfit you can get hired on at for a few years and pay your dues. Again, sorry to hear about your situation. I have 2 little ones too.
     
  3. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376

    What ever you do, don't go into this situation half cocked. Contact score.org and set up an appointment with a councilor. At least you will have a business plan to start with and your questions answered.
    Buying equipment at this point and taking over an existing route without a plan is amature hour at best and a disaster at worse. Act and think like a professional, far to many unskilled and desperate people willing to jump at anything. Don't become part of the herd.
    easy-lift guy
     
  4. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,895

    I agree with the guys above and will add there are only 6-7 weeks left in your season. It is not difficult to imagine how your friend failed at this; you have even less experience and chance of making it than he did. It is not a risk you can take.

    Lots of places just lost all their college help, see if you can find work with one of them. In this kind of work that includes golf courses (grounds dept), mid-size lawn care businesses - look for crews scrambling to take care of condos and apartment complexes.

    If you want to work for yourself, residential customers will soon be needing fall cleanup, which includes more than just leaves. Not many people who mow are doing this or want to do it. Spend next week knocking on doors. This time of year mulched beds and foundation plantings are beginning to be overrun with weeds. Shrubs need trimming and perennials need to be cut back (soon). These are things that can be entered into with much less equipment and could well provide some cash flow for your family with much less risk.

    In another direction altogether: are you familiar with Uber (uber.com)? You could be making money before dinner tonight offering private driving/taxi service. Requires a cell phone, an app, and a clean car.

    Good luck. I wish you well finding a way to provide for your family. Don't take the risk of taking over your friend's accounts though.
     
  5. Ditta&Sons

    Ditta&Sons LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,495

    i think the time of year is your biggest factor, there are only 2 months left and a lot of properties wont even need weekly mowing soon. youll have to invest a lot of your own money right up front to even start, truck, and equipment will set you back that you wont even turn a profit this year.
    wait till next year and offer your help to him this year, part time is better than no time
     
  6. ztman

    ztman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,007

    The math for the 26 accounts doesn't line up if these are weekly accounts. He is "abandoning the accounts" but what about his equipment? If you are interested in doing this, use his equipment to service the accounts for a couple of weeks, and you can see what you are getting into.
     
  7. inzane

    inzane LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,348

    yeah, i'd keep looking for a job.
     
  8. Tn Turf

    Tn Turf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 285

    You see about leasing his equipment for a few months. Ask to go out with him to help mow so you can learn the route and meet the customers. Good luck!
     
  9. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376

    Just wondering if you read the laundry list of challenges the OP is facing?

    Then comes the nitty-gritty details...
    - Currently he is 100% illegal. Do i incorporate? get license for the city?
    - He is under the radar, pays no taxes. How long do i attempt this? (NY)
    - How soon do i look to pickup "backup equipment" in case of breakdowns?
    - Where to keep equipment during winter?
    - How easy is it to expand the business?
    - How much can i handle alone, when to consider hiring a helper?
    - I know he undercut to obtain some homes, do i attempt an increase?
    - Do i even begin thinking about winter months (snow removal)? (added equipment expense)

    Leasing his equipment if it is worth 5 Cents on the dollar for a few months?
    Mowing season is almost over. Leasing used equipment is really a bad idea for so many different reasons. I hope for the OP'S sake that he get a plan in place instead of going half cocked like I warned him about.
    easy-lift guy
     
  10. onrasr

    onrasr LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    Thank you everyone for the replies, i greatly appreciate it!

    He has stated he is having difficulty handling the route because he has a fulltime job as a mason which makes him a lot more money, and so he has not had the time to handle more homes, nor is it worth his time. So he said he will finish this season and next year he is abandoning it.

    I figured the hardest part of this business is finding homes to pay on a regular basis, and with him handing me a small list to start, it would give me an advantage over many others just beginning.

    I also figured if i limit my services to primarily cutting, trimming, edging, blowing ... how hard could it be?

    But i understand there must be many factors im not considering. You all know a lot better than I do, and if you say its a bad idea, i will trust you.
     

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