College Student Mowing Lawns

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by zukboy789, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. zukboy789

    zukboy789 LawnSite Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 12

    Well guys, i need you inputs. I am 18 going on 19 (in june) and I am a college student. In the summer, im looking to pick up lawns for me to mow in the summer for extra cash. Ill be working from end of april until the end of august. Any ideas on what i should do?

    A little hindsight about me, i worked for a landscaping company for three years (all through highschool) and a lawn care company this past summer. I had 5 lawns i mowed all year but have since passed them to my younger brother who does them because i cant. I have a Honda HRR216VXA with 110hrs on it, a Stihl FS55r with 30 Hrs. on it and plan on picking up a Stihl BG55 if I have work to do this summer. I am considering working for a landscaper, but i cant justify working for 8-10 bucks an hour when i have the equipment to do it myself and pocket the money for the entire job. What do you all think? Any suggestions or warnings?
  2. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534

    So you are only planning on mowing from the end of April until the end of August even though the growing season give or take depending on how north you are in PA, is from early April until sometime in October. You want some extra cash and want to pocket all of it. I assume by that statement you are not planning on paying taxes, purchasing insurance, or a business license.

    Because of your limitations on time and equipment I say go for it. I don't imagine you would pick up any customers that I would want or any legitimate landscaper would for that matter. People who do not already have their lawn boy lined up by the end of April don't care about their lawn other than the fact they just got a letter from the city saying if they don't get it mowed they will be fined. Or they didn't pay for services rendered by the previous LCO and he quit going back.

    It's cool too that you are screwing them with a 1/4 of the season left cause the type of people that you will be dealing with probably deserved to be screwed. Sounds like you are going to make a heck of a name for yourself, all kinds of client retention into next year and they will definitely recommend you being that you left them hanging the previous season.

    In all seriousness, even though this reply is facetious you should think about the points I made. Are you really going to just quit in August? If so, how do you think that is going to affect your name/brand?
  3. zukboy789

    zukboy789 LawnSite Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 12

    I asked for comments and honest remarks, not an stupid reply that took little into consideration. This would be discussed with the people beforehand. Maybe this forum just aint the place to be. I guess I will just have to use the experience I have and the brain god gave me. Thanks!
  4. hi_speedreed

    hi_speedreed LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 534

    You did not say that in your original post. I took all the info you provided into consideration and provided an honest reply. Maybe the delivery was harsh, but I provided a warning at the end if you read that far.

    You said you would only work from late April until late August. You said you wanted to pocket all the money for the work. You asked what members of this site think, for ideas, suggestions or warnings.

    Ok, here is a less harsh response.

    I don't think you will get many customers only mowing during the little window of time you provided. I think the customers you do get will be crappy, low paying ones. I question whether you will pay taxes, purchase insurance and a business license. You didn't say yes or no to those three questions. I suggest you research laws of your state to find out what you need to do to run a legitimate business. I also would add instead of just looking to make some cash, why not try and find an internship in your chosen field. That will give you a much better head start on the other people in your graduating class than mowing a few yards or working for a landscaper.
  5. trock

    trock LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 431

    Do it! I love picking up new customers in August!!! And we will be able to service them August, September, October, and some of November not to mention pick up the fall clean along with seasonal contract for snowplowing oh and get them signed up for next season for a fert contract, weekly mowing, spring clean up, mulch!! They will not remember you as as that nice little college boy. The only thing they remember that you left them hanging. Also what will you do if you sling a rock in a window? Or hit a kid in the next lawn in the face with a small stone or a piece of bark? Will you have the proper insurance to cover the damages because there is no such thing as "i will be carefull"
  6. mach14604

    mach14604 LawnSite Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 231

    Dude go find a job somewhere else. Sell what equipment you have and that will give you some start to having money back in your pocket. Everyone one of these guys comments is right on(even if it is harsh). If you can't commit to these people for the season its not worth doing. I find it hard to believe people would hire you knowing that you are only going to be there for a short window.
  7. zukboy789

    zukboy789 LawnSite Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 12

    Alright. Thanks for the input guys.
  8. mowerbrad

    mowerbrad LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,268

    I've been mowing the entire time I have been in college, but I also started in high school too. I'm lucky enough that I go to a University about 25 minutes away from home, so I'm always around and able to service my accounts all year. Seeing as I keep my weekly customer base to around 15-20 customers, I know many of my customers pretty well, they all know I'm in college full-time and have two other jobs that I put in anywhere from 40-70 hours a week at.

    In your situation, if you live in a decent size neighborhood, you can probably pick up a few customers for the summer. Make sure that you are upfront and honest with them from the start, that you will be returning back to college at the end of August. Many people are actually quite understanding, especially if you are a hardworking, honest, college student. You have all the necessary equipment now, so aside from purchasing a leaf blower you will have minimal start-up costs.

    Reading through the other posts, it seems like lots of people try to put others down on this site, especially when you are a high school or college student. Now, in some towns you will need to get a business license but in cities like mine, you don't need one to mow lawns. The comment was made that you NEED to get insured, that is untrue, legally you don't need insurance. There is no problem with you being self-insured, you are just incurring a great deal of risk should something happen (broken window, damaged car, or god-forbid an injured person). Keep track of the money that you pull in from mowing and your expenses (you can do this in a notebook) then come tax time, just turn it into your parents accountant who can then help determine how much you will need to pay.

    I really don't know how much you could make, I would assume you could pick up around 5-6 accounts, assuming that you can keep those accounts all in the same neighborhood, you could gross somewhere around $150/week and only working one day a week. If I was you, I would still look for another part-time job over the summer...sure $9/hour isn't a whole lot but you'll probably make more at that job than you will mowing lawns just for the summer. But mowing could still give you a little "extra" spending cash for the summer or the next school year.
  9. MOturkey

    MOturkey LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,778

    These guys have tried to be realistic with you, and I tend to agree with most of what they say. Nothing wrong with having your own business, and I wouldn't necessarily discourage you from doing so, but you do need to put some more thought into it. My first question is the obvious one. Why do you need to quit mowing at the end of August? The only reason I can think of for this is if you are going to college in a different location. To me, if that is the case, the simple solution would be to live year-round wherever it is the school is located, build your business there, then you could continue to service accounts even after school resumes.
  10. metro36

    metro36 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,417

    Im in college as well and I started while I was in high school. Like brad, I go to school about 20 minutes away from home and I stack all of my classes on 2 days a week. This allows me to landscape 4 days a week and provide year round service. Last year I serviced about 20 lawns and this year I am hoping to get about 30 plus Im going to offer fertilization and weed control. For me this is a business which I plan to continue after college.

    I believe you will have a hard time finding many customers who will be willing to hire you knowing that you wont be there for the entire season. Plus you wont be able to offer fall cleanups or plantings. Fall is my most profitable time of year. If you do decide to do it, you really need to get licensed and insured. Otherwise you are taking a big risk. All it takes is one mistake, you piss off a customer or a neighbor and you will be done. If you are working for people you know thats one thing but if you want to advertise or do work outside of your neighbor hood, you need to go legit.

    I would look for a summer job. Making 10 dollars an hour may not sound like much but youll probably get more hours then you will working for your self. Plus if you get a landscape job, you will get experience with other aspects of the industry besides just mowing. I worked for another company before I started my own and I learned a lot. I learned how to prune, plant, fertilize, work on equipment ect. I also got to see what worked and didnt work within the company so I had ideas on how to do things when I went out on my own.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013

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