A Teenager's Potentially REVOLUTIONARY Lawn Care Business Model

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by lawnandorder2013, Jun 23, 2014.

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  1. lawnandorder2013

    lawnandorder2013 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    What are your thoughts on this business idea?:

    A business in which the people mowing are local teenagers that mow lawns with their own push mowers. This business would be moderately large in size (let's say 100+ yards per week) and located in an upper-class suburb. I (a college student) would find new customers, manage the business, and handle most customer service, and I would take a cut of the income from each lawn. Our prices would be comparable to those of professional lawn care companies (maybe a little lower), and we would operate on strict principles of quality (no badly-mowed yards).

    Here is my rationale for this idea: People (especially those that live in really nice suburbs) LOVE the idea of a hardworking teenager, and many people who would not hire a professional service would maybe hire a teenager. They would not have to worry about the quality of the lawn care, because it is an established business with an experienced owner (who is barely out of his teens) making sure the teenager is doing a good job. The teenagers would be well trained by me, and they would make a LOT of money (about 2.5x minimum wage, in my experience). Compared to other jobs available to a teenager, this job requires more personal responsibility, but it pays off in the amount of money that can be made. I will be able to attract the most reliable teenagers to mow lawns, because I would more than any other job they could get.

    This is the plan for Lawn and Order, a business that I started last year. It currently has 17 clients. I am hoping to use this business model to grow the business around the community. Any comments, ideas, critiques, or wisdom is much appreciated. I am very new to "the industry", but I think I might really have something here.
  2. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,372

    Although you may believe your "business idea" is novel I can assure you it is not new. Contact your local score.org office and set up an appointment with actual experts that have been there and done that.
    After your first meeting or interview I suspect you will be given an honest opinion of your "business idea"
    and than if you would like to proceed will be given a homework assignment which will be to create a actual business plan. Once you have completed this assignment I believe you will have a much better perspective on everything involved with starting a business going forward. If possible ask about any mentoring programs available as well. There is no cost for participating except your own time and future business life.
    Best Regards
    easy-lift guy
  3. ztman

    ztman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,115

    Same concept as the house painters isn't it. The claimed to have college kids do the work. I don't see them around anymore. See what happened to them, and don't do what they did
  4. JCLawn and more

    JCLawn and more LawnSite Fanatic
    from MI
    Messages: 5,281

    It's a franchise called student painters. They are everywhere actually. My gf works for them.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. DuallyVette

    DuallyVette LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,966

    Someone around here uses college students to pet sit. Or pet visit. They would come take the dog for a thirty minute walk and just check on them. One of my customers pays 35/40 twice a day if she is out playing tennis and having lunch with friends. :) Another pet sitter I met worked alone. She didn't trust the students that she met. And was concerned about liability issues, sending people into customers homes

    For lawn maintenance... I don't think it will work.
  6. lawnandorder2013

    lawnandorder2013 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    The student painters thing is really interesting, and in some ways it could be used as a model for my personal business model. Why exactly do you guys believe that my lawn care business model won't work?
  7. Dr. Cornwallis

    Dr. Cornwallis LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 854

    I know how teenagers are, I used to be one, and I wouldn't want one working outside my direct supervision for the most part. I think you'll have trouble with employee retention.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    General Overhead.

    Start Up Costs.

    Lack of actual teenagers wanting to work in the blazing summer sun.

    Lack of quality control on each site while they are doing the work. Otherwise you'll be checking everything every week with no direct supervision.

    100 yards will be tough to push mow, you'll need at least two crews. You won't be able to get the volume you need to cut a profit like the bigger companies do if you are staying competitive on pricing.

    Teenage drivers are probably going to cost you a lot more in insurance costs to have driving trucks. You would probably be looking at $500.00(+) in insurance alone per month,12 months a year, if you can find it at your age.

    Customers are going to want more, and you'll need to offer everything. Otherwise they'll move on to the next guy that can do all the services they need done around their properties.

    Now, can it be done, possibly, but you'll have to do some serious number crunching to figure out your costs and over-head. I can't remember where I saw the article, but there was a guy that was charging considerably more to run around with a small truck/trailer and was using electric equipment. He tapped into the greener side of the market and found a niche. I don't want to be pessimistic, but mowing is not a market share that we push. There is always at least 20 mow guys for every 1 out there. We pushed the landscaping where there might be 10 per every 1. At that point, we took on mowing accounts that were requested for us to do and were profitable. After nine years, we are still only at 2 days worth of mowing and that's fine with me.

  9. allagashpm

    allagashpm LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    Kids around here are in school until june depending on the winter we had. Then they go back end of august. They will want to go to the beach and on their families vacation. Some will want to do an off season basketball camp. They may be enticed by the pay but they will be late, not show up etc. Your workmans comp and other insurances will be very expensive. Most people actually would rather have a professional if they are paying the same price. You can expand and grow but alter the plan and I would leave the teenagers out of it
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. Service.com

    Service.com Sponsor
    Messages: 804

    I like the idea. It is not new, but has its strong points. They do love the idea of a hard working teenager/college student. It is the best selling point and I loved using that when I was doing it. Has aura of honesty about it about you working for college savings or whatever. All the "holes" mentioned here are valid though. You will have problems with quality control, high insurance, employee retention. All big ones.

    It is doable though. I had some ideas like that. Smaller crews are seen more positively than large ones I think, especially with the older clientele. Since most people have mentioned the negatives I will try to look at the positives.

    If you have the ability to get the equipment you need then you are off to a good start. I would do some heavy researching in getting your first handful of reliably trained employees before getting the work first. As they perform they will get more accounts and grow (how it always goes in the business). If you are seeking to target specific neighborhoods, I would look into the batch pricing. The bigger crews do this and make up the lower price with sheer numbers. If you price yours a little higher and play the "honest hard working student" card you will get a few to switch maybe. Once you are in the sub you can build on converting the neighbors season to season, gotta kill it though. Your first few employees are so key, spend your time looking for the good eggs and train them well. Number crunching is key as White Gardens mentioned as well. Also have to plan for the fickleness of your potential crew. The look and quality work is key, not matter how you slice it. Doesn't matter what type of system you have those two components will be the bread and butter. The best of luck!

    It will be that much sweeter when you post in two years the whole thing killed it!
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