2020 Review for new guys from a new guy

RVA-Outdoor Services

LawnSite Member
Location
Richmond, VA
Ok so I started my gig pretty much this year in March. As promised I would do a write up for anyone contemplating getting into this. I will be as truthful and transparent as possible. I already worked in an outdoor industry with a lot of landscape construction experience. I decided to jump into the lawn care game to see if it was worth it.
My setup is as follows:
Wright Stander B 36"
Husqvarna 128LD and 525L trimmers, 150BT blower and Echo PB 8010 blower
Old Lawnaire IV aerator
I also decided to buy a 6x10 enclosed trailer to deter theft and keep stuff in decent condiiton

At my busiest I had 17 customers which was broken down into 3 weekly and the rest biweekly
I ended up cutting 8-11 each Friday which was the day I set aside to mow. I averaged $375-$450 each Friday I cut which was pretty much at my target of $400/day. Drive time killed me as expected with having around 2hrs+ of total window time each day. I had properties ranging from 1000 sq ft to 1.5 acres. Towards the end of season I started turning down clients as it was really starting to mess with my overall schedule with lots of rain delaying the days I could cut.

Pros: Money can be decent gross wise if you have enough clients, Net can be better if they are closer together. For me financing the mower was a good deal as I was already strapped for time and wanted no downtime due to repairs which I didn't have any whatsoever with new machine

Cons: Weather can have a larger impact than I anticipated (This is important if this is a side gig for you) It will at some point interfere with your other work. This is when I came to the realization there are only but so many hours of daylight and you may have to choose between your regular job/business and lawn care.
Weather could be an issue for some not used to being outside in the elements whether its rain, cold, or extreme heat. For me it wasn't as I already work outside. (Don't underestimate this especially if you have helpers. They will burn out faster than you typically as they are not motivated the same as you are)
I paid cash for everything except for the mower which had a payment of $125/mo @ 0% interest
I had roughly $10k in my setup.

Verdict: All in all I grossed about $17k in additional income from this little venture so at least I covered my core expenses. I really don't think I will continue with this as it was more of a hassle to me than it was worth. I already make decent money with what I do and ultimately people drain the joy I had for appreciating a well kept lawn before. I offer a range of skid steer services as well which leads me to my next point. Obviously you can't please everyone 100% of the time no matter how hard you work. The key difference is I don't mind going the extra mile on a job worth a few thousand and dealing with a little BS but when its over a $40 lawn it really starts to test your patience. There are a lot of stupid things that will get to you like lots of trash and debris on city lots, to customers wanting on demand service for the same $40, to wanting stuff done for free.
Key takeaway for guys or girls looking to get into this. WE ALL ask the same question before we start in our heads: "It's just cutting grass, how hard can it be?" True the work itself isn't that hard if you have a half way understanding of what's going on and can take the outdoors. However, managing several clients who all have their own needs and wants and expectations will get to you solo operators especially if working around an existing work schedule.

If anyone has any specific questions about my setup or experience just ask. Also if anyone is in Richmond, VA or surrounding areas and interested in a 36" Wright Stander B that has been babied let me know. I also am selling a small enclosed trailer as well and can possibly negotiate some clients if interested. Thanks and Happy Holidays!!!!
 

kemco

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Memphis TN
Curious do you know how many total hours it spent to net you $17k. Total of all hours, work, maintenance of equipment, drive time, paperwork, calls etc. This, I believe, is something that most, not all, new people don't take into consideration. I really didn't the first few years when I cranked it back up but soon found this number to be one of the most important numbers I needed to keep on top of.
 

Trees Too

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
USDA Zone 6a
I believe that it was @rclawn on here that said he got out of he cutting part of landscape care as mowing is a loss-leader with horrible margins.
Here's a good article with the pros & cons of lawn biz startups.....
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
Ok so I started my gig pretty much this year in March. As promised I would do a write up for anyone contemplating getting into this. I will be as truthful and transparent as possible. I already worked in an outdoor industry with a lot of landscape construction experience. I decided to jump into the lawn care game to see if it was worth it.
My setup is as follows:
Wright Stander B 36"
Husqvarna 128LD and 525L trimmers, 150BT blower and Echo PB 8010 blower
Old Lawnaire IV aerator
I also decided to buy a 6x10 enclosed trailer to deter theft and keep stuff in decent condiiton

At my busiest I had 17 customers which was broken down into 3 weekly and the rest biweekly
I ended up cutting 8-11 each Friday which was the day I set aside to mow. I averaged $375-$450 each Friday I cut which was pretty much at my target of $400/day. Drive time killed me as expected with having around 2hrs+ of total window time each day. I had properties ranging from 1000 sq ft to 1.5 acres. Towards the end of season I started turning down clients as it was really starting to mess with my overall schedule with lots of rain delaying the days I could cut.

Pros: Money can be decent gross wise if you have enough clients, Net can be better if they are closer together. For me financing the mower was a good deal as I was already strapped for time and wanted no downtime due to repairs which I didn't have any whatsoever with new machine

Cons: Weather can have a larger impact than I anticipated (This is important if this is a side gig for you) It will at some point interfere with your other work. This is when I came to the realization there are only but so many hours of daylight and you may have to choose between your regular job/business and lawn care.
Weather could be an issue for some not used to being outside in the elements whether its rain, cold, or extreme heat. For me it wasn't as I already work outside. (Don't underestimate this especially if you have helpers. They will burn out faster than you typically as they are not motivated the same as you are)
I paid cash for everything except for the mower which had a payment of $125/mo @ 0% interest
I had roughly $10k in my setup.

Verdict: All in all I grossed about $17k in additional income from this little venture so at least I covered my core expenses. I really don't think I will continue with this as it was more of a hassle to me than it was worth. I already make decent money with what I do and ultimately people drain the joy I had for appreciating a well kept lawn before. I offer a range of skid steer services as well which leads me to my next point. Obviously you can't please everyone 100% of the time no matter how hard you work. The key difference is I don't mind going the extra mile on a job worth a few thousand and dealing with a little BS but when its over a $40 lawn it really starts to test your patience. There are a lot of stupid things that will get to you like lots of trash and debris on city lots, to customers wanting on demand service for the same $40, to wanting stuff done for free.
Key takeaway for guys or girls looking to get into this. WE ALL ask the same question before we start in our heads: "It's just cutting grass, how hard can it be?" True the work itself isn't that hard if you have a half way understanding of what's going on and can take the outdoors. However, managing several clients who all have their own needs and wants and expectations will get to you solo operators especially if working around an existing work schedule.

If anyone has any specific questions about my setup or experience just ask. Also if anyone is in Richmond, VA or surrounding areas and interested in a 36" Wright Stander B that has been babied let me know. I also am selling a small enclosed trailer as well and can possibly negotiate some clients if interested. Thanks and Happy Holidays!!!!
A lot of people make money
But they don’t like what they do
IMO
that’s ok
You gotta live
But if you can find a side hustle that makes money at something you enjoy or have a passion for , then it lessens the burden of the grind you need to do so you can live.

some people are blessed that their passion is their living

not possible for most of us schmoes
But doesn’t mean you have to stop looking, you might find it
 

kemco

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Memphis TN
^ absolutely agree. Been thinking myself about getting general contractor license to do something else besides mowing while I build the spray side (even though mowing and lawn spray go hand in hand). I'm just about burned out on mowing. Keep working harder and harder for less and less money. Seems insane.
 
OP
RVA-Outdoor Services

RVA-Outdoor Services

LawnSite Member
Location
Richmond, VA
^ absolutely agree. Been thinking myself about getting general contractor license to do something else besides mowing while I build the spray side (even though mowing and lawn spray go hand in hand). I'm just about burned out on mowing. Keep working harder and harder for less and less money. Seems insane.
Exactly it seems like a race to the bottom and I’ve realized I don’t want any parts of it. I’d rather stay where I’m at and grow in areas that have higher barriers to entry. I spoke to an old guy who was servicing a yard next to my client a few weeks ago when I saw he was using a Wright mower and he told me straight up he’s only doing it now because he’s close to retirement but given the choice again he wouldn’t restart in the same field. He said it was way better 30 years ago when he started but now with rates staying the same, expenses rising, and hard time keeping labor on he wouldn’t do it over again. He had 300+ clients and said he’s been burning through guys so fast now even at $15-$20/hr he’s mowing around the clock with lights on or until customers complain.
 

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