App guy thinking about mowing?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by addis29, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. addis29

    addis29 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 9

    I operate a large App. only business in Ohio. I've thought about a full service company for years, just thought stick with what we do best is the best motto. I see a lot of posts on here about Lawn Mowing only guys thinking about getting into apps, just curious if getting into the opposite venture is worth it at this point? I personally do not have the time to do the mowing. This would have to be a crew to handle these duties. I guess what i'm asking is if the up front cost is worth it in the end. There is a lot of mowing competition around here, but in my opinion less than a 1/4 actually know how to mow grass, I see a lot of butchered lawns. I've always thought a quality full service is the way to go. I'm just looking for some feedback thanks in advance.
  2. siclmn

    siclmn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 364

    What is an "App. only business"?
  3. addis29

    addis29 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 9

    Sorry I should have made that clear. We are a fertilization, weed control, insect control application type of lawn care company.
  4. Hawkshot99

    Hawkshot99 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,431

    Just curious what makes you feel that you will do a proper job? You are a person that has no experience cutting lawns. The odds you posted say you have a 75% chance of butchering the lawns as well.
  5. I_am_a_beginner

    I_am_a_beginner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 194

    Mowing grass is easy as s*hit, just use your common sense, make straight line, trim carefully, blow to make everything clean, next (all day long process). What's hard? lol. People who do bad jobs are people who don't give a **** about their business and that's why they do not own something who is profitable. They are the kind of guys who make the minimum wage, they are lawnboys, not businessman, they prefer to mow lawn for 10$/hour versus flipping burgers. They kill the market for lowballing in a industry with constant increase in outcomes (gas), they are just stupi*d.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 23, 2011
  6. Swampy

    Swampy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,435

    The good thing is you have a customer base to start the process. Problem is you have no free time to Mow. Your going to have to find a employee then to either handle your apps so you can work on building the mowing. Chances are if you stick a employee in your mowing side, its going to be a bad turn out.

    Like said Mowing is easy, thats why alot of people get into it. Though there isn't a grey area if your professional or a hack and even that is in the eyes of the customer not in the eyes of your colleuges. When it comes down to recession time, if again not hopeing it will but it will, up by me Fert service would be cut or cut down by residental and commerical vs Mowing would stick around.

    You won't see a ROI as high as you would your App side, I found you have to be in mowing for the long haul to get a decent ROI.

    I'd think your entry cost should be lower, since you own a truck already and probably own a trailer already. Just have to pick a mower, trimmer, and a blower (again you might have a second already).

    Honestly, your from Ohio, I'd hang a plow off the truck and get into snow removal before getting into mowing. It'll get you more year round work.
  7. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    If you can app only successfully, you can surely cut lawns. Nuff said.
  8. Kelly's Landscaping

    Kelly's Landscaping LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,725

    You may want to knock off the butchered lawn stuff and yes I know its in the fert company play books to always blame the lawn guys. I have a unethical company in my area that loves to blame us. About 6 years ago I get a call from some one up state says he just sold his company for 4 million dollars and now is going to make a new fertilizer company in my area. He then goes on to tell me and you know it is illegal to apply pesticides with out a license so you will be giving me your fert accounts right? To which I read him my supervisor number my partners supervisor number and my business number. He quickly hung up now when ever I have a lawn that he ferts for I get that bs I even have one of his check lists and half the questions are ways to push the blame on to lawn mowing.

    Now as for running full service we do offer it but our fertilizer side is a fraction of the lawn mowing side. What you got going for you is if you are making a living off just applications you have 500 accounts. Which means if you just signed up 20% you have an instant 100 lawn account cutting list. You are going to hate the margins where a fert only guy can bring in 200-300k a year if he has a thick enough list. A lawn crew tends to bring in 55-70k a year per man. Granted they don't have the obscene product costs but they have equipment, trailers, trucks, large amounts of fuel, and as it ages huge repair bills. It is going to be many years before you recoup your investment if ever. And it involves trusting someone to run things that you admit you don't know what your doing. He breaks even 2 days a week, loses money on the 3rd, and makes a modest 5% profit the other 2 days what are you going to do to fix it you won't even know whats wrong. He will tell you we are doing our best and then what? Also fert companies can afford to drive much longer distances because of there small crews often one man. Of my 190 lawn accounts over 150 are in my home town. I keep a very tight rout we drive between the trucks less then 300 miles a week for the lawn list. Now imagine what your crew will need to drive when you ask you client list to let you mow and as is always the case the ones the farthest away all sign up.
  9. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    The one advantage of mowing contracts is that you have more customers per dollar for accounts. The only thing we use mowing for is to upsell work that pays. The margin on mowing is solidly limited. With chemical, is like the sky is the limit. I can make STUPID money with chem even besides the regular fert and weed aps. (Actually, as you know, the fert and weed is just the base of the business...everything else is the larger income). I have a few select mowing contracts that I do for the simple reason that they are real close to base, and I have had them for years and years. This also keeps some equipmen t running to do cleanups and such. Everything else, I have got rid of by giving them to other services I know, according to their location. Mowing is too hard of work and too time consuming for the margin it makes, anymore. I'm not saying there is NO money to be made in maintenance, especially if you are upselling the tree care, shrub trimming, and installation renovations, I'm just saying that lawn maintenance doesn't have nearly the margin of lawn care. I make as much just pulling UP on a job before I even drop a grain of fertilizer as what I do mowing a property, trimming it all out, and blowing it all off. As far as getting IN to mowing,...yeah,...not MUCH of a learning curve. That's the good thing about mowing...a monkey can do it,...and quite often, do. Some learning of techniques, what and what not to do, and some practice, and you can be striping like the pros. Alot of it comes from experience, and alot of it can now come from advice - especially from people of whom have been doing it for years. I have helped many people get in to it. The latest, Drew (First Impressions), does some of the most beautiful work in the area! Myself, I've been doing it for around - Oh my God! 30 years, now! I gotta retire!
  10. addis29

    addis29 LawnSite Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 9

    Not trying to start a war here with the mowing guys, but I know what a butchered lawn looks like and in my area there are a lot of mowing guys who butcher lawns. There are some crews here that take pride in their work and do a very nice job and that's what I like. I get a lot of calls about full service and have to send mowing accts. away. I was simply throwing out the question, Is full service worth it?

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