A little something on the side

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by AirborneMechanic, Apr 28, 2018.

  1. AirborneMechanic

    AirborneMechanic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Hello, new here, I'm a full time diesel technician. I work 4 10's Tuesday thru Friday. I used to mow with a guy in a bigger town and we had about 100 accounts a week. We had two crews, each with a wright stander 36 and a hustler 60. I decided that I wanted to get back into it a bit and make a little money on the side along with getting out of the house and staying busy on Mondays. My goal is to pick up about 10-15 accounts for Mondays and if it picks up a bit more I guess I'll see where it goes.

    Currently I own, including recent purchases, a wright stander 36 fixed deck, trimmer, edger, hedge trimmer, aerator, spreader, back pack blower, hand tools and a few extras and just picked up a new 6x12 utility trailer and a new truck. I registered a sole proprietorship and am just a one guy operation.

    I'm pretty much just looking for residential or maybe some small commercial as I do not have a larger deck mower at this time.

    Looking for any tips on it to help out provide a professional finish cut and decent striping with the stander. Currently running the oem style blade, believe it is a medium lift, have blade height set at 4" with a 1/4" pitch. It looks like the deck has a bit of a backwards pitch built in, meaning while the blades are pitched forward the deck itself measures about a 1/2" lower in the back, assuming to help with striping?? I do have a question in respect to blade height within the deck, currently they are about 1.25" from bottom of deck, not sure if raising them or lowering them within deck provides some different results or not or in theory what it would do. I never messed with any adjustments in the past on the standers, that was done by the other guy and unfortunately I should have asked more questions then and paid more attention.

    I see a lot of companies already out mowing in small town USA where I am at (mid-Nebraska) but I just haven't seen anyone producing quite the expected result that I was used to up in the Omaha/Gretna/Elkhorn area. I'm not saying that they aren't around, I just haven't seen much of it. It seems most of what I have seen is just as long as it is cut it really doesn't matter what it looks like. We always shot for a 4" cut height before and NEVER bagged unless it was for a spring or fall clean up, I don't even have a catcher for my stander at this point so it's really not even an option. It seems a lot of people around here are wanting their yard shorter than what I am used to, 2-3" and are asking for it to be bagged. I try to explain that 3-4" promotes a healthier lawn and as long as clippings are small and dispersed evenly with no clumping it provides a health benefit to their lawn along with a better striping effect at the longer lengths as well as providing some shade for blade base/rooting systems. I even double cut lawns at no extra cost that are a bit longer or ones they only want to do every other week because I want a good aesthetic result and a reputation for that. It's not like I have changed regions to where grass grows differently or the majority of species have changed. How can I better relay that information to potential customers and sell them on that concept so I can pick up some more accounts?

    Any information to the above questions or tips for a guy just starting out and wanting a small piece of the pie are greatly appreciated, thank you!
  2. AirborneMechanic

    AirborneMechanic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I mixed up myself on the deck, it does measure to be a forward pitch with the blades not backwards. My bad.
  3. zraffz

    zraffz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Stopped reading about half way down so pardon my ignorance. I see you registered as a sole proprietor so you plan on getting insurance I'm sure.

    10-15 yards doesn't leave much room for profit. I generally do 7-10 yards a week after work (LLC/Insured).

    I think I'm going to just start banking the lawn money into an account for my 9 month old son since I don't really rely on it.
    Greencuts518 likes this.
  4. Greencuts518

    Greencuts518 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,040

    I'm in similar boat. I do this part time so the initial investment is consuming the first year to just take on a few lawns but let's face it, it beats pushing a mop 5-12 pm 5 days a week to make some extra $$$. As that's what I was gonna do. Janitorial business, but just couldn't find inspiration...lol
    zraffz likes this.
  5. AirborneMechanic

    AirborneMechanic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    10 yards around 25 a yard I'm looking at about an extra $1000 a month in season which is fine with me (minus overhead which hasn't been much). My wife and I typically work opposite schedules during the week so I'm not really considering paying a sitter on those evenings and just trying to break even so just Mondays for now. if I can get up to 15-20 I think I can handle that, will just be a longer day which is what I used to do by myself every day.
  6. zraffz

    zraffz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    10 yards at $25 is $250/week, $1,000/month. No idea where you live but the mowing season here is about 26 weeks... So $6,500.

    Now pay $500+ for insurance. $6,000
    Now pay $500+ for fuel. $5,500
    Now pay $XXX for maintenance.
    Now deduct your taxes and you made $3,000 on the year or $58/week.
    Mark Stark likes this.
  7. AirborneMechanic

    AirborneMechanic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    My numbers look a bit different than what you are referencing however that isn't quite in the realm of my questions in the post. Appreciate the input though, thank you.
  8. AirborneMechanic

    AirborneMechanic LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    I guess, while we are talking about new business startups and what not, I don't want to be close minded and do appreciate input. When I shopped around for insurance there were multiple policies for under 500 a year that would cover me for just strictly mowing, I was actually told that legally I didn't even need it for what I would be doing although it may be frowned upon. I have had people ask if I could drop some trees but I'm not even going to get into that, outside of mowing I'd be doing aerating, seeding, some hedge trimming and that's about it. Liability alone is not a bad idea but honestly (outside horror stories) the majority of issues I would have would be throwing a rock into something or maybe killing a sprinkler head, my auto and personal property policies cover the rest pretty much besides liability and equipment loss/theft. I mowed roughly 2000 times last year and not a single incident for damage to equipment or property damage. I take that back, I did end up replacing a picket on a privacy fence that the owner thought I took out but actually did not, I just did it to save face and keep the customer happy. I don't have any employees and taxes I haven't quite figured out yet but I am keeping good books and will be meeting with someone soon. 2018 will be a loss as far as profits go considering I'm already for conversation sake say 10 grand in the hole for equipment and etc so I'm hoping I'm not going to get hit too hard there.

    Other than the business side of the house I'm truly just looking for tips on how to get the best work product out of my equipment and to grab a few more accounts.
  9. zraffz

    zraffz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    Your personal auto policy covers nothing in the event of an accident while operating a business.
    You want to hear a horror story? A guy around here clipped a propane valve with his mower, 500 gallons leaked out. These things do happen; your mower loses traction and slides down the hill into a car. Etc.
  10. zraffz

    zraffz LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 413

    I'm really not trying to talk you out of anything but insurance is one thing you shouldn't overlook so quickly... If you can't afford it, you definitely can't afford to not have it.

    Either way, best of luck. I have the same passion to mow as everybody else here. I am just out to let you know that doing this legitimately part time is not as profitable as a second job is. I am lucky if I make an extra $100/week ($5,200/year) working 10+ hours a week for half a year (this is significantly lower than my hourly rate at my day job).

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