3 Things You Would Do Differently If You Could Go Back And Start Again

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Sean Adams, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. BESSY12

    BESSY12 LawnSite Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 12

    3 things to do differently. Ya I can come up with those pretty easily...

    1) Learned to price better right off the bat.
    2) Put some more research into equipment before buying.
    3) Not backed into that tree last February.

    That's the main ones I think...
  2. TwoBrosLawn

    TwoBrosLawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 48

    Love this thread. i can say i think im on the right track. in business since 2005, full time since 2011 just grossed 41k solo last year.(lawn and snow) all used mowers and truck. i just bought a 2nd truck, used dump and a new but used price enclosed trailer (7x14 rc $3600). and got a buddy helping me this year becausei have grown a little more. I got 3 year round apt. complex contracts, 1 hoa common area, 25 residential accts. i have debt but its not breaking the bank....i typed this on my phone so excuse the grammer.
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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  3. GrassIsGreenerLawnCare

    GrassIsGreenerLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Messages: 636

    3 things differently huh..... Well....

    1. I should have started on a Monthly payment schedule for my accounts the first year
    2. Organizational skills were a mess the first 2 years, but finally got a good system down
    3. Lettered my truck sooner
    4. Not taken anything but weekly or every 10 day cutting customers......forget biweekly!
  4. Charles_4

    Charles_4 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Whoa! Only 25 residential accounts and 41K? How many apartment contracts do you do? Either I'm missing something in this post, or I must be missing some serious strategy here.
  5. dc240nt

    dc240nt LawnSite Member
    from NW MN
    Messages: 79

    Great thread! Im just getting started in the mowing business and done some plowing last winter. My goal is to combine the two for a decent year around solo business. My plowing contracts were for 3 small apartments and 8 residential driveways. It paid me $450.00 each time out. It didnt snow much but we got enought to pay for the new plow, and I was able to get an idea about what the income potential can be with a "normal" NW MN winter.

    The mowing is all new so I have a bunch to learn.

    Im glad I found this site, and glad I found this thread.
    Theres a ton of good advice in these 7 pages and I appreciate all who have shared. Thanks a ton!
  6. wgallagher

    wgallagher LawnSite Member
    from CA
    Messages: 32

    Hi everyone, I am 29 years old, i have mowed yards growing up, would mow yards in a small town in nebraska while visiting every year during summer in highschool. I have worked for a couple local well established guys in the past. I also at one time had 10 accounts, (crappy accounts i may add) years ago but when i had found a construction job overtime on saturdays quickly came up so little by little had to lose the accounts. Now with 2 boys and a baby girl, with no luck at finding a job due to an old criminal background and the kids school schedule and ol ladys work schedule i have decided to get back into this and try to start a hopefully successful business for myself and my family. With that being said, is there any webpages where i can basically steal, copy and edit a year round monthly service agreement? And also how to properly estimate and bid the "dollar a minute" i hear about so much. If so can yall please let me know. By the way i have a echo weedeater, a crappy homelight weedeater as a back up, a new 22" snapper and a echo backpack blower if that helps with helping me price. Thanks alot, so glad i found this informative forum site.
  7. BlazinJake

    BlazinJake LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    This is probably the best thread I've found... As a newly started solo business, I've already begun changing the way I do things simply due to the information in this thread.

    I don't know that I have been in business yet to have 3 things, but I would def. say that I wished I'd never have low-balled quotes on lawns... and don't take on lawns that are too big for your equipment. I've had to drop a client simply because I could cut three yards in the time it took me to cut his.

    I haven't been able to get away from the bi-weekly (or as it needs it) accounts. But I have made one client that really seems to care about their yard, so maybe they are my key to others.
  8. Tizzy

    Tizzy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 383

    3 things i would have done differently.

    1) More advertising
    2) Purchase nothing but scag
    3) NEVER buy a kohler engine
  9. Puddle of Oil

    Puddle of Oil LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,203

    1. Save up at least 5k to use for effective advertising
    2. I wish I was more inclined to grow the business when I started 9 years ago
    3. Bought a mower from a better dealer
  10. Doin_It

    Doin_It LawnSite Member
    Messages: 36

    Interesting thread, it started way back in '08, nothing posted in '10, now sort of up and going again. Good to see it continue. Not enough good thot provoking threads here. So I'll add my bit of wisdom.

    Here's what I've done. I stated in '04 doing just "resi" cuts. Did a lot of door knocking in areas I felt would be good to start. Bought yellow pages for about 4 years but felt the cost was a waste of money vs. returns. Dumped them. Did a ton of flyers, but again the return vs. the amount of customers we got never floated my boat, so quite doing those as well. Back to door knocking and business cards, just in the areas we cut. Decal up your truck, rule in your cut area I say.

    The best I ever had was 8 customers in a 11 house cul-da-sac. On the resi side we built it up to 150 cuts/week. This was done by 2, one man crews. House lots averaged 50' wide by 110' deep. $38/cut. Both of the trucks we used were 9/10 years old, bought at an auction. (trucks don't earn you a penny,they just haul your ass around, and the customer don't care what your truck looks like, but they sure care about what their lawn looks like) I say buy the best equipment, it earns you the money, not some fancy truck.

    Each truck had 2 new JD self propelled push mowers, 1, new Stihl back pack blower, and 1 Stihl trimmer. I've always bought the same whatever, be it trimmer, blower etc. That way I only had to keep a very narrow line of extra parts on hand. Plus there was no learning curve on things being different.

    During that time, we picked up 3 or 4 commercials, and bought 1 old....2200 +hour Walker to take care of them.

    Then we started to spray, weed and feed. Again....here I go, knock knock knock, you need us to spray...OK we will............within in 4 years right around 800 resi and commercial customers. Equipment......3 old PU trucks, you got it, came from the auction. 200 gallon tanks, Honda motors, 150' of hose on hand crank reels, to cheap to buy electric reels.

    Now we just do 97 commercial customers. I sold my resi cuts to an employee, who I financed, and he payed me back in 2 years, and the sprays I sold to a big custom spray outfit, who spray my commercials as needed.

    So what is my "trick". I lease to buy, as the payments are an expense, so we can right the cost off of course. All my equipment is the same. Ferris mowers, Stihl hand tools, always the same model if possible. My newest truck is a '01 F350 with a Blizzard power plow, 100,000 miles on 'ol Betsie. Our 2 landscape trucks are a '99 F350 and '96 GM 3500. I'm still learning sadly to say, I don't need to be the cheapest on the block. In fact when I have been, potential customers have thought I didn't know what I was doing, I found out later.

    Fortunately we are able to cut 3 church properties each year which we return the money to and it gives us a nice $15,000 tax receipt so that's nice for the tax side of things.

    So we keep it simple for equipment, I advertise by knocking on doors, and I keep my equipment costs low. I'd love nothing more then to have a fancy fleet, because it sure would stroke my ego. In fact I only have 1 roof strobe on my plow truck I'm so cheap.

    But I prefer the fact that I've been able to instead invest in a 11 suite apartment and pay it off in 5 years, plus 4 small rental house's that I hope are paid within the next 3 or 4.

    Read the book.........Millionaire next door, it's but 1 book that fired me up and changed my thought pattern.

    From Wiki, here are a couple of Main Points.....

    "Spend less than you earn

    If you are always spending up to or above what you earn, you will never increase your net worth no matter how much you make.
    Avoid buying status objects or leading a status lifestyle

    Buying or leasing brand-new, expensive imported vehicles is poor value. Buying status objects such as branded consumer goods is a never-ending cycle of depreciating assets. Even when you get a good deal on premium items, if you choose to replace them frequently, the older items hold no value and have become a sunk cost. Living in a status neighborhood is not only poor value, but you will feel the need to keep buying status objects to keep up with your neighbors, who are mostly UAWs. The authors make the point that Hyper consumers must realize more income to afford luxury items and become more vulnerable to inflation and income tax......blah blah blah.

    It was books like this that kept me from being a "status" landscaper.

    PM me if you want to chat, now that I'm 55, I'm happy to pass on what info I can.

    Love this thread.

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