20 Year Old Just Starting- Need some advice on a few things

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Church2224, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. Church2224

    Church2224 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 565

    What has turned into mowing a few of my neighbor's lawns has grown into something bigger and is almost a full time business because so many people have asked if I could take care of their yards as well, and I am really enjoying it. I am just getting into the lawn-care and landscaping business so I need some advice on a few things. I apologize in advance if I sound like I do not know much, because I don't :laugh:

    1. Licensing- Where and how do you get licensed and insured? Just curious as I was talking to some one about it and I had no idea that I had to get licensed before this. Right now this is just a side business, as I have a primary job as well. I also have been keeping track of my earnings and expenses for tax purposes, I just need to know what I need to do to get licensed.

    2. Advertising- I plan on growing eventually, probably starting January 2013. What would be the best way for me to advertise what I am doing?

    3. Equipment- All I have right now are a pair of Toro Super Recyclers, a Snapper Hi Vac and some miscellaneous power and hand tools. I already have a pair of Commercial 21 inch mowers (most of yards have a fence where you can barely fit a 21 inch mower through) and I also have trimmers and blowers picked out that I am saving up for, but I also want to look into getting a large walk behind mower preferably a 48 inch. What are some of the top mowers out there people would recommend, and for decent prices? I have been looking into Exmark, Ferris, Toro and Scag mowers, and mostly floating deck models because from my understanding they are much easier to adjust the cutting height on.

    Also if some people recommend good zero turn mowers and if they would think I would absolutely need one let me know.
  2. Antiskell

    Antiskell LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    The state you live in dictates taxes etc....dont cheat the man, getting bit will haunt you for life.

    Find a good insurance agent, someone who wont pawn you to a minion, make sure they listen. Then work with them to figure out what you need for coverage....dont forget injury, disability and workmans comp if you have employees......dont pay under the table, if someone gets hurt its a nightmare.

    As far as equipment.....dont buy crap, i still buy quality used stuff. Find a good repair shop and buy what they sell, this way parts are all most always on hand and you are back up in no time. You can buy 5 used walk behinds of good quality for the cost of one ok z turn new. A big mistake many make is financing a butt load of brand new equipment and having to few customers to pay for the gear.....dont work for your equipment, it works for you....my repair shop sells toro and echo .......toro owns exmark so he always has what i need and knows my equipment.....dropping off a case of beer every now and then always is appreciated as well. Get some good hand tools and learn to do the small repairs on your own. Do your preventative maintanence.......keep stuff clean. Change your air filters and oil when you are supposed to. Go easy on your hydros, those pumps are expensive repairs

    As far as upgrades...im a huge exmark fan....they have done me very well, they hold up to good care and to abusive workers. A good walk behind can be had used for 1000-2000 bucks, a good used z turn 4-5000...exmark numbers. Buy what you will use the most, if you only use a z turn for one yard....why bother, i use a push on two properties for 5 minutes each, hence my hunk of junk. Watch your spending on equipment.....and know that you will have repairs. The bigger the machine the bigger the repair cost. Also make sure the machine you buy has an engine fit for commercial duty.......a 72 inch z turn is no good with a 17 horse briggs replacement.

    Your equipment will do more in a week than the average homeowner will do in a year....i like stuff with big motors, they dont strain to get through the day, think about a 4 cyl engine in a sedan vs. a 6 cyl......the 4 uses less gas but works 50 percent harder to do the same job....adding 50 percent more wear and tear

    Last but not least, go slow, do what you can handle......its a lawn, nobody is gonna die if it isnt green enough. Be nice, dont take abuse, not everyone can be made happy.
  3. Antiskell

    Antiskell LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    Ive never advertised, my work has spoken for itself, sometimes if you are lucky people will want you to maintain a property because they have seen the care you put inti a neighbors's. Otherwise, local weekly papers, classifieds in daily newspapers and pinups at local stores are a good cheap add. I wouldnt suggest door knocking, bad mouthing "lawn dude x", or snatching customers from others with cut throat rock bottom prices. Make friends with the other area guys, you may need them some day if you get hurt.......or have a huge job and need a hand.....
  4. T Scapes

    T Scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,225

    as far as advertising i put out some flyers my first year and went from there alot of work now is from people who came up to me while i was working for from work of mouth.

    As far as equipment i bought a used exmark lazer with 780 hours for 4k and a exmark metro with 600 hrs for 1k and have a toro personal pace 22". like the guy above me said dont get crappy equipment to save money for me it was worth it to get the lazer instead of getting some home depot tractor starting out
  5. jrsimpson77

    jrsimpson77 LawnSite Member
    from Utah
    Messages: 77

    Well Said Antiskell - word of mouth is the best form of advertising. But it's a two way street also...do a good job and all the neighbors / businesses will see your work and hear about you. Do a bad job and they will see and hear about that as well.

    Another good thing that has worked good for me is the local news paper / service directory. I run an ad all month for $100.00 and I get a ton of work of it....My business name, info and website is listed. Where everything is digital these days including the local news papers they read my service directory ad online and can click right onto my website. I also have a contact us link / tab on my website...The person or business can put there question, name and contact info down and it goes to my email which then goes right to my Iphone so i get their email almost the very moment they press send....So I'm able to respond to customer very fast if I'm not on a mower that is. I've actually asked customers how they heard about me, why they picked me over someone else. And about 99% say the website and the contact us link....people are busy at with their family, work, kids...ect they like being able to go to contact us link fill in their information for the service they want and press send and have someone call them back.

    As far as a website goes you can get a pretty basic website. I found someone that even does business logos for way cheap and she does an excellent job. She did me four logos for $75.00 and I got to pick which one I liked most. So I placed the logo on the website to give it more of a professional look.

    I'm fairly new to trade as well I Bought good used equipment (I've got eXmark and a smaller Hustler mower to fit past those small backyard gates with big backyards. And I'm very anal about the maintenance part...lol. Check tire pressure, check oil, change oil & filter every 40 - 50 hours of use, pressure wash the deck... and keep it clean.

    Learn everything you can, read books, watch you tube videos, read & post on lawnsite.com or as my wife calls it lawn porn....lmao because I spend so much time reading and posting. Most of all listen to Pro's on this site....I'm far from that but they know what they are talking about....I've got much respect for them.....It's ruff and hot but hang in there and don't give up and you'll be fine.

  6. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    Not much we can tell the OP if we do not know what state he is in?
  7. Church2224

    Church2224 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 565

    Virginia, sorry I thought it said my state in the upper corner.
  8. Brett Thomas

    Brett Thomas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 83

    Consider looking into a stand on, I truly believe the market is moving this way. A local company is replacing all their ztrs with ride ons due to the greater efficency.
  9. Adeas Printing

    Adeas Printing Sponsor
    Messages: 606

    If you are interested in advertising and need any printing done, check out A'Deas Printing. We have several different specials and have designers on staff that can help with that aspect part of it.. We have specials on door hangers and direct mail at the moment, we have some new innovative products that help get you/your company noticed for a competitive price. We have a short video on our site that shows our different products. Our website is www.adeasprinting.com, Our pricing and such is on there as well ,but if you would like to chat feel free to call or email me at any time. My name is Glenda and my number is 1-866-778-4254 or my email is glenda@adeasprinting.com
  10. a&k

    a&k LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    I was in the same situation last year, with the same questions. I am from Virginia as well, so I can help answer your licensing questions.

    You can obtain a license from your County Commisioner of the Revenue. If you are going to do business under a company name rather than your own, the first thing you need to do is go to your local courthouse and file a certificate of assumed or fictitious name with the Circuit Court. This cost me $10. Once you have that form completed, you need to go to the Commisioner of the Revenue office and file for a business license. The cost of the license varies depending on the amount of income you are expecting. If income expected is under $10,000 it will be about $30 for the license. I'm not sure what county you are in but go to your county's website and you should be able to download most of these forms online and also obtain more info.

    Once you have your license then the next step is getting insurance. Shop around with different companies! i have mine through Nationwide and it is reasonably priced. Definitely get insurance to cover your @##.

    As far as equipment, don't over buy the size you need. I see a lot of people running around with a ztr on their trailer. I always wonder why everyone thinks you need a ztr. A good quality walk behind works just great for starting out. Don't go cheap because that just menas you will be replacing it in a few seasons costing you more money. Depending on your yard sizes I would probably look at starting with a 36". If you do mainly residential stuff, like me, a 36" walk bahind will allow you to get through gates into the backyards. An oversize ztr won't, which means you pretty much spent that money for no reason. Go to different dealers and demo the different brands. Find what is most comfortable for you. Personally I like my Emark. Next think about options on the mowers (floating vs. fixed, etc.) I got a floating deck simply for the ability to easily change deck height, and this has been an advantage for me since I have a few customers that ask me to mow shorter than my others.

    As far as advertising, I just simply ran a classified ad in the local paper. It got me off to a great start!

    Hope that helps!


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