CT.er may be relocating to N. FL.(Lake City Area)

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by wildwood 1, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. wildwood 1

    wildwood 1 LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 15

    Hey all you Floridians, this is a long post but I appreciate your time.

    I live in CT. and have been landscaping for several years. I lived in Florida about 18 years ago, but didn't do any landscaping. Anyway to the point, I am debating getting the heck out of CT. before I go broke paying taxes. (can't say that I enjoy freezing 3-4 months out of the year either) I thought that I would simply move my business down south and everything would slowly fall into place. I'm guessing it wont be that simple. Northern and Southern landscaping being completely different, I feel I would have to relearn the business from the ground up.

    For starters, I imagine the pay scale is probably different. Here I can charge $60-$80 dollars per man hour. My lawn mowing typically nets about $100 per hour including drive time and loading, unloading at the shop.

    Mowing grass up here is usually from mid April to early November, then leaf clean up from early November till done, usually late December or until snow flies. Of course snowplowing until it doesn't snow anymore (late Feb. early March) and then Spring clean up until mowing resumes.

    Landscaping jobs that I typically get are design and/or install garden and foundation beds, mulching, brushcutting, roto tilling and pruning/trimming hedges,shrubs and trees.
    What is the typical schedule in Florida and what kinds of side work or landscaping work do you do.

    Any friendly advice, tips or guidance in caring for Southern grasses, trees, etc...is appreciated. If you don't mind sharing what you charge that information is helpful as well. I know it depends on overhead, expenses, profit etc... and right now I am a one man show. I have done some reading on caring for palms, trying to learn about caring for southern grasses and such. I thought it would be a good idea to ask the guys who are doing it for some feedback.

    I feel the best way for me to get started would be to work with an established company for a couple of years to learn the business, meet vendors and suppliers and build a relationship that way. However, having a wife and two kids, I don't think I would be able to afford that. That is another question, What do you guys pay your help?

    Thanks for taking the time to read through this post and thanks again if you can take the time to help me out.
  2. First off, 60-80 peran hour will net you no work down here. However, Connecticut is way more expensive than Florida so that is a big difference. If you are good at design, you can do very well. If you are a quality full service landscape company you can do very well. Florida is different than every other state IMO. We typically have a year round growing season. Def. Keep reading up on palms, plants, turf, etc. I feel with the right attitude, drive, and knowledge you can make it anywhere. There are a lot of lowballers and hacks in this state, so be cautioned. They don't bother me, but a lot of people complain about them. Good luck to you.
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  3. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

  4. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

  5. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    I am seeing a little different statistics about Florida on other websites. But whether Florida is dead last or # 6 from the bottom it all is saying the same thing.

    My numbers, 2008 really sucked but 2011 Business has been good. Networking and referrals have been very good this year. (BTW Thanks to some Lawnsite members) But not unlike you, I am well established with a reputation and a following etc. I would hate to be a Newbie because while I am seeing some business I am also seeing a lot of People out of work or trying small service business. Everything from window washing to pool cleaning etc.

    Other factor to consider are Local Demographic and while Z turn and myself are in small town America I believe Lake City has even less market. Also Lake City is more like Georgia than Subtropical Florida. It doesn't have the year round growing season

    McDonald's does heavy research before selling a franchise. For that reason McDonald's has a huge success rate on new store opening. My point here is if I were planing to move south, I would be heavy into researching the best area. If I had it to do over, I would be in a different town for business reasons.

  6. Plantculture

    Plantculture LawnSite Member
    Messages: 128

    I think if you stuck closer to Gainesville than lake City for your customer base you would be a little better off. Also a market to consider is the growing equestrian market in Ocala.
    In South florida, what I have seen for installation labor for like $30-35/hr billable or about $25 ish for estimating maintenance labor.
  7. jvanvliet

    jvanvliet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,944

    We bill out @ $85.00 an hour minimum. I don't know how you can stay in business billing @ $25.00 to $35.00 and pay salary and overhead.
  8. I highly doubt your billing at $85/MH.....
  9. wildwood 1

    wildwood 1 LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 15

    Thanks for all of the advice and information so far. All very helpful. I first learned of Florida's foreclosure situation a couple of years ago when I read an article about the market in Cape Coral. I read that the economy was not suffering as much as the housing market. The reason that I was considering Lake City is because my uncle lives there and I like the idea of having some property. I see that I can buy several acres with a house or mobile home for what I think is a reasonable price. My wife is into horses and I understand that there are horse facilities and such in the area. I don't have my heart set on Lake City, but I was looking at the surrounding area.

    I know what you mean by being established and I imagine I would struggle for a while to try to establish myself, especially not knowing the native/local plants and how to properly care for them. It would be pretty tough to compete with a good company, while trying to learn the business and establishing relationships with locals and suppliers.

    If I do end up moving south, I will be facing a challenge for sure, but it's nice to know that most of the guys on Lawnsite are so willing to help.

    Thanks for the replies and keep them coming.
  10. unkownfl

    unkownfl LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,837

    Since you're still considering where to live I would highly consider Ocala. You could get cheap housing with land. It is known for horses and you can easily pick up a lot of accounts there and towards Leesburg, Lady Lake, and The Villages. Those are prime retirement communities.

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