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wanting to start small. What decision should I make?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BBN, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. BBN

    BBN LawnSite Member
    Posts: 133

    Hello, everyone. Great site I've been reading for a month before I joined. All I know is the lawn business sure has changed the last 20 years. Back when I was in high school when my friends all got jobs slopping food I mowed lawns. Amazing lookin back doing this job for $6 a lawn and some lawns taking an hour+. I had about 10 lawns and for a high schooler in the 80s with 90 cnt gas it was a pretty good living. All I know is I don't know how you guys do it full time! This is HOT WORK! Of course all I was armed with was a 21" cut push mower.

    OK, enough of a brief bio. Here's my question. I have considered starting out small for awhile. Right now in midseason the temp is around 100 degrees with humidity through the roof. I AM OUT OF SHAPE! I can't get through my lawn hardly. I do tons of weightlifting and have been a dedicated lifter for 21 years, but my cardio stamina sucks. I was considering starting small. I know a guy willing to give me a couple lawns he's wanting to dish off. All I'm armed with is a 21" push mower and a trimmer. Should I go ahead and take on these lawns or should I wait until spring and work on some cardiovascular endurance? I work another full time job so the "time is money" is not an issue. I would not have to rush and these two old ladies that own these lawns are very sweet and easy to work for. My plan would be to save every dollar I make toward bigger, better equipment and take on more work next year. Should I go ahead, take these two lawns and take it slow and easy while doing some running in my free time or should I wait until next year and try a few lawns then? Like I said my plan is to do this debt free and I really don't expect to make any real profit for a couple years as earned money will go to upgrading equipment and get a real work truck w/ trailer. Thanks for any info and input.
  2. out4now

    out4now LawnSite Bronze Member
    from AZ
    Posts: 1,796

    If you're that not used to the heat it could be a problem. Very easy to become overheated. I would take it slow as you stated to see if you can keep up with it and add as you go. If things start going really well you could add employees and not have to be out in the heat as much although you'll still have to do suprise inspections to keep them on their toes and make sure they are doing things in a profesional manner until you have enough confidence in your crew cheifs.
  3. mikes landscaping

    mikes landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from kansas
    Posts: 298

    if i were youy i would. its not to much work that you cant handle it, but its a nice amouint of extra cash. go for it :)
  4. dcondon

    dcondon LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,246

    I would say it's up to you. If you think you can handle it " health whys" then go for it. Save your money and buy a rider for now. then you can up-grade to a Com mower. Good luck with your decision. Keep us posted on what you decide.:waving: :waving:

    Welcome to lawnsite!!!
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Here's what I do when the temps hit 104+ HI (heat index).

    First rule - NEVER be out working from 11am - 2pm, those are the hottest hours of the day! Stay inside or at least rest in the shade.

    You have two choices:
    Start out first thing in the morning and work until 10:30 or so, then you are done for the day.
    Benefit: It's the coolest in the am.
    Drawback: It's coolest when your body is fresh and as you work and get tired, the heat builds up and it feels literally like you are walking up a hill that keeps getting steeper and steeper.

    Start out at 2pm and work until dark or close to it, then you are done.
    Benefit: You get 5-6 hours in easy, it doesn't sound like much but...
    Benefit: Your body is fresh when it is HOTTEST, at 2pm it is as hot as it is going to get and it starts to cool down. By 3p, the edge is gone and by 5p it's right comfie.
    Drawback: It's not as cool as in the am and the hardest part is getting out.

    The other choice is to break the day by going home and staying inside from 11a-2p but it's a bit of a rigmarole thou I've done it.
  6. ALarsh

    ALarsh LawnSite Silver Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 2,412

    I just get out there and try to enjoy the heat. I look at it this way:

    I'm sweating like a pig = losing weight

    Working fast = payup

    payup & losing weight = :) :weightlifter:
  7. BBN

    BBN LawnSite Member
    Posts: 133

    Hey, just got back to the site. Great and helpful responses!!! Thanks to all! I loved mowing lawns as a teen and actually enjoy it now if I can stay ahead of the heat. The temp is supposed to be 100-102 through the week with the heat index around 110 so this week is going to be a real treat for the local lawn care guys. I don't know how anyone in Arizona can do it with daily temps over 110.

    As far as me, I work midnight shift in a place that keeps the thermostat set below 70 in the summer so you see why the heat and I don't gel to well. I'm sure being 245 pounds doesn't help. All I know is it doesn't matter how 245 pounds is proportioned it still feels like 245 pounds when doing work that bumps up the pulse rate. I was in excellent shape in the spring walking 45 minutes 4 times a week and that may have been a best time to start but after a softball related leg injury that laid me up I got out of the habit of walking. I can tell. Bad move. Hit the gym today and did a brisk 25 minute walk with about 4 minutes of jogging thrown in there. I think I'll take everyone's advice and just do it. It's only a couple right now and I would love to eventually pick up a couple more by the fall. My dad has a residential rider and a pickup truck I could possibly borrow until I raise the cash for my own setup. He never uses either one so I could be set there. Just keep up the maintenance on the rider and truck to show thanks to him.

    As far as timing the early morning thing would work great for me. I get home at 7am so I could do my work from 8-11am and then come home and sleep at that time. I think what killed me yesterday was I fired up the push mower and started working at 1pm right in the middle of the heat. I guess a bad move huh?
  8. Birdhunter1

    Birdhunter1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 312

    First off, Howdy Neighbor1

    I agree with Tosites to start out as early as possible in the morning, on my mowing days I try to get out of the house by 0600. A person that starts at 0600 and quits at noon gets as much if not more than the person who starts at 0800 and works till 5 pm. One thing I will say about the heat is aroundere the hottest parts of the day are actually between 3-5 pm (at work we have a NWS approved water station system that we report to the NWS daily and the hottest temps are usually about 4:30 p.m.).

    As far as the work, it is better to start with a few small simple lawns for many reasons.. (1) you can perfect skills here (clean cut crisp edges, striping etc), (2) you can learn how to estimate time and learn to manage your time better (3) you may get burned a little and learn to not get burned in the future (4) you can start getting a "feel" for your equipment (5) you can make a few bucks and be in the coninuous "upgrade' mode

    I haven't dealth with any of the dealers over near marion but Dogwood Fireplace and Lawn in Carbondale is a very good Stihl dealer (stocks lots of parts and gets things moved out of his shop quickly) and Scott Coleman at Coleman's Lawn Equipment in Carbondale is excellent to deal with. He carries lots of brands of Mowers (Ferris, Scag, Grasshopper, Bobcat {at least he used to} and also he carries Husky and Redmax and is taking on Stihl at his Carbondale store. If looking for new equipment then talk to him early spring before he has his open house, usually after that there is lots of great used stuff that comes in.
    Of course over in your area there is also Ideal Lawn and Tractor, never been in the store though but they have some good brands of stuff. Also there is Matrix Tool that carries blades at some of the best prices around and of course lots of hand tools.

    Good luck to you, I don't know what the biz is like in Marion but I know C'dale looks to be pretty rough with lots of guy in it, as for me I don't take on enough biz yet to have to leave the Murphysboro area.
  9. Birdhunter1

    Birdhunter1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 312

    When I was on midnights it was great for getting stuff done early. I'd be fresh and awake at 0700 when I got off work and I'd be good to go till about 2 or 3 in the afternoon and then I'd go to bed. The worst thign was everyone else would be a step ahead of me since I'd have to go home, load up and change clothes then get started at 0800. ERCKED me to no end.
    Now I'm on evenings 3-11 pm and I love it, start at 0600, stop at noon or 1 pm then get ready and go to work.
  10. BBN

    BBN LawnSite Member
    Posts: 133

    Thanks for advice on dealers. Definitely taking notes on that. I notice guys around here fire up early. I'm thinking these older ladies wouldn't mind since older folks are usually up at the crack of dawn. The business in Marion seems endless. Two guys I know that are in it are always getting calls and they're deferring these callers to younger kids looking to make a few bucks on any lawn they find available. Like I said one of them wants to downsize and has offered for me to take over a couple of his jobs since he wants to cut back. Alot of new real estate coming up here being built by yuppies who don't want to sweat or get dirty so the business keeps going. There are so many people working as LCO's in this town it isn't even funny and these guys are deferring new potential customers to new startups so it looks like the potential of work is as much as one wants to take.:)

    BTW do you work in corrections? I was wondering because of the "3-11" shift is pretty synonymous with DOC.

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