Getting back into it

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Wayne 55, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. Wayne 55

    Wayne 55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    Ok here goes. Living here in NY the times for my current job (operating engineer) is dieing. I am thinking of getting back into landscaping again start off small at first and then growing to who knows what. I was into landscaping back in the 60's 70's and early 80's with a buisness my father and I had till his death. We had a good buisness maintaining 60+ yards a week plus commercial buisnesses along with all the other work involved with landscaping. Most of our lawn cutting was done near the weekends so yards looked good for the weekends and the earlier parts of the week were used for maintnance of yards and whatever else we had on the books. The real question lies here. 99% of lanscapers these days use Zero turn machines. All well and good and I can see there advantages on some lawns. Most of the yards we have in this area grow grass of a mix of Rye, Kentucky blue and Fescues. The lawns we maintained had these mixes and a few even had some creeping bent. We had the machines to maintain all of these and can say that our lawns looked great. Now days I see all these Zero turns running around cutting these same grass and leaving the mowed lawn with grass still at a hight of nearly 4". With all I learned through the years this isnt good for the grass it only looks good for a time. Seems to me that going back to my roots and going with a quailty reel mower will number one be healthier for the lawns. As a selling point to the buisness once people see this it should sell more buisness as it did back then. Now I know nothing beats Rotary mowers for ease of Maintance sharpening wise but again a Reel mower if maintained right will last a long time. Size to me and speed is also a option I need to look into but I got ideas flowing here and having a machine with a 6ft cut is a option along with not a ton of weight. So with that said a couple of these machines will no doubt make fast and effeciant work of any lawn keeping profits up. What I need is your ideas between mowing with reels vs rotary. How many of you still use them.
    Depending on lawn conditions I will also consider a ZTR machine for those lawns needing them.
  2. Jpocket

    Jpocket LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,282

    To be honest todays customer is pretty much used to the type of business most LCO run. I don't think anyone would be willing to pay for the type of service you are talking about. I would think you'd need to charge double what everyone else is to make money. But i do know what you are talking about, sounds like the companies I used to watch as a kid
  3. x-ellipsis-x

    x-ellipsis-x LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    If your passionate about it, then go for it!...Even during a recession I see hundreds of landscape trucks...if your aggressive with the marketing, and passionate about what you do, I can't see any reason why your skills wouldn't allow you to fully provide for you and your family!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2010
  4. MR-G

    MR-G LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    We had a couple of reels up until a year or so ago...just werent productive enough and couldnt get the price needed...granted most of the lawns here are a form of st which a rotary cuts just fine...some of the thinner softer types of turf would be better served with a reel...if you can get the price...:usflag:
  5. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Good Luck Wayne.

    I'd go with a rotary mower. At least around here there isn't anyone around that still knows how sharpen a reel mower correctly.

    If you are concerned with weight, go with a quick 36 or something small and efficient to get the job done.
  6. Wayne 55

    Wayne 55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    Thanks guys
    Sharpening wont be a factor I got it coverd. Other things like backlapping and adjusting I do myself. At my age we used to mow with sheep. The hard part was loading them on the trailers and keeping straight lines on property edges along with keeping them away from foundation plantings. We could also charge for fertilizing a double whammy.

    All fun aside I can see the points you guys bring up. I feel I can still get cutomers and be competitive and still pull profits though. Or it might be a thick head here talking too. Ive been working on this for a time now looking at all the angles and seeing the prices being charged in this area allows me to go this route and still make money at it. Like I said before some lawns here would require a ZTR machine to efficently mow the lawn, I dont plan on beating my head against the wall and being so bullheaded against these machines. After all it isnt the machine cutting the grass wrong its the company. There are plenty of lawns here that a reel mower will work wonders on. Having a machine with a 6+ ft cut would be in my opinion as fast as any walk behind machine used today. Thus time being money. My time spent on a yard would be the same if not less than everyone else. There for keeping the rates about the same and still adding in the factor for sharpening a few times a year. Also having spare cylinders and bedknives in the shop ready to go on the machine doesnt have me waiting for someone to sharpen that machine.

    Again though it all needs to be sold to the cutomer I can buy all the machines out there and if I dont have customers what good is it. I am still putting thought into it so keep the opinions coming. I am listening.
  7. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    A fellow western new yorker! Orchard Park has the money to spend so who knows! Hope to move back to the southtowns again, nice place to live and a good amount of quality properties.
  8. Wayne 55

    Wayne 55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    MD lawn
    I hear you and you know where I am coming from then. Although O.P. has plenty of properties to work on most our business back in the stone ages was in the Amherst Williamsville area. Again another good area for making money. Back in the days we had 10 customers on one street all the lots tied together no moving just park and mow. You know what I am talking about. Less window time and more money to be had.

    Where are you located? Nice to here from a local for a change. By the way we never steped on toes while in business. It didnt make for good relationships between us landscapers. We are all out there together earning a living and there is plenty of room for everyone without cutting throats. Thats how we ran it years ago and I plan on keeping that same moto. Best wishes to you.
  9. MDLawn

    MDLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,284

    Most of my business is in the Amherst/Williamsville area, although only part time for now. I worked for a friend where we had 15 lawns in one neighborhood in OP and we could get them done in about 4.5-5hrs. Good size ones too. It was sooo easy, but he made all the money!!

    I also try not to "step on toes" of other businesses and I know what you are saying. I seem to be one of the more expensive guys anyways as I am constantly beat out by the $15-$23/cut guys. It's definitely tougher right now but things will hopefully turn around. Back when I worked with my friend we were getting too much work, without even advertising. Maybe I'll be back in the southtowns and have to start up all over again:dizzy: but I really love the southtowns.
  10. Wayne 55

    Wayne 55 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 108

    MD Lawn
    I know exactly what you are talking about. When we had the business going it was great for many years. Then the big crash in the 70's brought every wanna-be landscaper out from under there rocks. Being that my father and I went to school for this business and paid for it we also needed to be compensated for it. At the time when most plants shut down every Tom Dick and Harry went to K-mart and bought a lawn mower and a broom and called themselves Landscapers. Well needless to say we did loose a few clients to them. Kind of funny because as it goes most came back to us. We all know that these fly by nights couldnt compete with the knowledge of a trained professional. Although they came into this line of work cutting their prices to half of what we were getting. The real kicker was when the customer came back to us our prices went up. Hmmmmm. The excuse was to them they screwed themselves by hireing the idjuts and the idjuts took 1 year to screw up what it took us 3 years to accomplish with their yards. The old pay me now or pay me later routine. We got our money with the pay rate increase too. But all in all those days were awfull to contend with. Much the same as these days we have now.
    I dont wish to saturate the market with another company but like I stated I got the schooling for it. I am not a fly by night either. Even after leaving the business all the companies I worked for I ran there Landscape operations to complete the jobs we worked on (schools, Water and sewer line restoration etc). Its been in my blood and will stay there till I leave this world. This is what my father gave to me through all the years working with him and for that I am eternaly gratefull.
    Like you we never advertised the proof of the pudding was in results of a well manacured yard. 95% of our new work came from clients recomendations or just simply people stoping us while we were working and asking for us to give them a estimate on their yards. Although now if I do this and get back into this self employed I will need to advertise to get the ball rolling. After that well time will tell.

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