1. Can’t make it to the GIE+EXPO 2017?
    LawnSite brings the trade show floor to your fingertips with our new GIE+EXPO 2017 Sneak Peek video series debuting now in the Lawn Mowing forum.

    Dismiss Notice

Getting ready to start my own landscape business.

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Centurion, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. Centurion

    Centurion LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    I working on getting my own landscape company off and running!!! I realize that starting your own business takes alot of hard work long hours and plenty of money. I plan to get started in 2010 spring. I want to get started on my own. So in the begining it will have to be part time and my full time job will finiance it. I plan to start out by mowing and slowly pick up other aspects of the trade. I have about 5 years experience in the trade working for Davey Tree. I am gathering my equipment so I will be ready for spring. I guess Im looking for some advice from the PRO's? Any help would be great!!

    I have a 4x4 Chevy Truck that runs great. Just bought a 14X8 tandem axle trailer. Its set up for a car but has slots for sides. I have rakes shovles and misc. supplies. I need to get a back pack blower and a commercial walk behind mower and have a Echo string trimmer. I plan on doing some heavy marketing over the winter. Any suggestions!!
  2. Hanau

    Hanau LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,568

    Mowing pays the bills and keeps everything afloat.

    Profits come from landscape design/install, tree work, hardscaping, water features, fire features, and so on.

    Take a look at my website to see some of the services we offer. I own a small company with 3 employees. You'd be surprised what we can pull off. Weblink is in my profile.
  3. Kennedy Landscaping

    Kennedy Landscaping LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,597

    Sounds like you have what it'll take to get going. Just be sure to market market market.
  4. peltzsempire

    peltzsempire LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Its a good idea to start getting your advertising out ahead of all the other landscapers in your area. I start marketing my pre paid packages as early as Feb. It wouldn't hurt to start getting a bunch of door to door flyers out as soon as it starts to warm up and would suggest using a flyer distribution company to put them out for you. The two companies that I've used have charged $.15 or less per door. The company I am currently using only charges $.13 per door, they put my flyer in a see through bag and put my flyer by itself on the door. I would suggest paying a little bit more per door just so your the only flyer, one of the other companies I used a couple times mixed my flyer with 9 others from different businesses and I found that I get a much better response when I'm not mixed with others.

    I hope you take the time to do lots of marketing as it will really pay off for you.

    Dedicated to growing your business.
  5. JohnnyRocker

    JohnnyRocker LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 741

    I wonder when people say"mowing keeps you afloat". So, are people who just mow for a living, actually not profiting? Why would they do this all week to make zero, and just keep their non-profit organization running. Seems pointless. I guess they are living out of their trucks.
  6. posterlion

    posterlion LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    Go Advertise
  7. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,443

    With the prices of mowing services dropping ever year instead of going up a little every year mowing is becoming less and less profitable. More and more guys getting into the business because they think its a cheap way to start a business, not to mention the state of the country right now, mowing is just a way to keep money coming in to pay the day to day expenses and to pay employees. Margins on mowing are low. With illegals used to making .50 an hour in Mexico come here and can make $6 or $8 an hour mowing they think wow this is great. Especially when you live 30 to a house and split all the bills.

    Newbies think most LCO's are making a killing just mowing lawns, well that's not the case. Like I said mowing keeps cash in the bank to pay for day to day operations. Hardscapes and landscaping are what generates profits. It takes a lot of cash to get into those areas, not to mention studying and reading, getting certifications, equipment etc. You can be just a maintenance company and get by, but you won't make any real money just cutting grass and installing pine straw and mulch and trimming bushes. I hate doing mulch and pine straw and trimming bushes. There really is less profit in that sort of work vs mowing. Guys are putting down pine straw for $4.00 a bale and paying $3.00 a bale, so the average property may take 20 or 30 bales and they make $20 or $30 for a couple hours work. You have to go get it and install it and clean up.

    In two hours you could mow 4 or 5 lawns and make more money. Same with mulch or trimming bushes. But you have to do it or lose the customer. When you figure in all of the expenses of running a maintenance only business vs what you profit after its all said and done, maintenance sucks. Now in today's economy where every commercial you see on TV is pushing lower prices, everything from the dollar menu at the drive through to lower cost on just about every service out there. The Sheeple are being programmed to want more for less. Well in this business you really can't lower the prices much more than they already are. There is a breaking point where it becomes basically working just for cash flow purposes, knowing that your doing so to keep the doors open. hoping to land a few profitable jobs off your existing customers or a few new customers.

    The companies that have been around for a while that have a few hundred accounts or more are the ones that are surviving this economy. That is because most have set prices that were established before the economy took a free fall. If some customer calls that company to cancel, most will lower the price just to keep them, figuring they need to keep the guys working and to keep a full schedule. They know they are maybe breaking even or even losing money on that account but it keeps their employees for when things start to turn around. When ever that may be. Everyone is in survival mode as a company. Keep cost down and keep enough work and money coming in to keep the doors open. Holding on for when things pick back up. Its cheaper to keep employees than it is to get new ones and retrain them.

    They can't just close the doors, or should I say they don't want to just close the doors, what else would they do. Sure some get out before they lose it all and so they decide to retire. Take the money and run. Some spent years building a business and don't want to let it go. So they hope and hang on. That is the reality of it. There comes a time with a product or service where the numbers just don't work, meaning its just a losing proposition. This industry of lawn maintenance is becoming just that. Why do people do it then. Well some believe that this is a good business to get into because they sit down and count accounts they don't have and dollars they haven't made. They mow a few lawns on the side and figure wow I made $200 today, so they start counting up all the accounts that they could have and the money they could make before they even have those accounts.

    Seems like a good deal in the beginning. A couple cheap mowers and a pickup or in today's world, anything that can fit a mower in the back or on the roof or pulled with a rope will justify as a work vehicle and I'm good to go. The guys that have been in the game a while know the real deal. The guys that have been around for a while get into other more profitable parts of the business like landscaping. Landscaping isn't putting down mulch and pine straw and maybe planting a few plants. Landscaping is landscaping and that takes investments in software and equipment and trucks and on and on. Its not an easy road to become a landscaper. Most are just maintenance companies even though they have landscaping in their name.

    Most maintenance companies don't make it past the first year, and if they do they don't make it past the 2nd or 3rd year. I always laugh when I hear people say this business is a cheap way to get into business, well its not. Sure you can start with homeowner equipment but that won't last long, and before you know it you have $10,000 or more in equipment. Hell you could could get into being a painter or handyman for a few thousand. The more customers you get the more services they want the more money you have to spend. At some point the investment is not worth the hours or the compensation.

    With the amount of people laid off, the flood of illegals in this country, with the mindset of the sheeple wanting more for less in a market where margins are already so low its hard to just break even, its not a business with a lot of potential. Say what you want, call me negative or whatever. That is the reality. Most are doing this on the side and their regular job pays the bills. The bigger companies you see have been around a while and use the maintenance for exposure and cash flow and to generate the real profitable jobs doing landscaping.

    Why do guys do this then? Well some don't know any better and have just started. Some have a wife that makes good money and covers the insurance. Some have been laid off and don't know what else to do or don't have any skills outside of what they did at the factory they used to work at. Some believe the bull that gets thrown around on here and have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Some think this is an easy low cost way to not work for the man. Some are content making $10 an hour doing this as apposed to working for the man. Some are retired and do it on the side just for $hits and giggles. Some are Mexicans doing it because it beats working for .50 hour in Mexico.

    If your considering getting into this business you better look really hard and take the blinders off and see what this is all about before taking the plunge only to figure out that its not what it seems. You will waste thousands of dollars and maybe a year or two of your life before you get the real story. Think I'm talking $hit? Go ahead take the leap, the waters fine. Just do me a favor and come back on here and let me know if I was wrong or right.

  8. SangerLawn

    SangerLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    from indiana
    Messages: 736

    I am not going to quote the above post because WOW its long but he is 100 percent correct. All we do is mow anymore; yes we are making a profit however there is a reason for that.

    Very simply put, we have been in business for several years. Not only have we already made a name for our self but we can pull into subdivisions and mow 4 or 5 properties without moving the truck. When you are starting out your properties will be spread out all over town.

    A really good friend of mine and a member of this site started his service last spring. He is part time since he works a full time job. (not gonna give out any names but…if he reads this I hope he posts something). All summer he kept calling me saying he cant believe how much money he was making. About 2 weeks ago he called me up and said he was screwed. He went and had his taxes done. After he paid all his lawn care bills it actually cost him almost $3,000 more then what he made to mow grass.
  9. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,443

    See that's the problem, most don't actually know what they have spent to run the business. If you have Quick Books or some form of accounting software you get to actually see what you spent on advertising, gas, equipment, mower blades, oil etc. Its all laid out for you, no guessing, no bull. The problem arises when guys don't even bother to buy accounting software from the beginning so it's all just an approximation. Most don't know their losing money and they believe their doing great. It takes awhile to figure it out that way but reality does hit eventually. That's when the equipment appears on here or craigslist or Ebay.

    Every year more take the place of the fallen ones. With big dreams of being in business, only to awake to the nightmare of the reality. It really is funny around Atlanta, pretty soon the mailboxes and doors will be bombarded with fliers, cards, some homemade, some nice and professional looking. Everyone fighting to for the same customer base that keeps shrinking because of the economy. Most willing to work for next to nothing just to get the customer. Because its not about what you make, its about how many customers you have. Ahhhhhhhh spring..... can't wait.

  10. dyerlawnservice

    dyerlawnservice LawnSite Member
    from East TN
    Messages: 51

    ok guys, you all have been in the game much longer than I and i'm not even going to start saying that all the post above are incorrect....however, I have all intentions of getting back into the business this year as I recently done it before. I'm starting this spring with zero accounts to carry over, they'll all be new....I feel that there is money to be made when you have good business ethics and make very wise business decisions. I have over 5 yrs. experience in business management (not lawn care). I cant sit here and say that a man cant make money mowing yards and doing some mulch work. It all depends on how he goes about doing it. All my equipment will be PAID for in full before I start the yr. My truck is not however I had it before I planned to do this so thats out of the equation. If you go about it in an orderly fashion and not out to get rich but expand your services as the opportunty arises and ALL your equipment is paid for then I dont see how theres no room for profit??? I work alone and have no employees, fully insured and licensed and have taken all the proper measures to cover myself....I dont see me going broke over lawn and landscape! Yes, I said Landscape as I have experience in the landcaping field and plan to take on any opportunity I see to do it. Like I said at the begining i'm by far a 10 yr. lawn and landscape veteran and i'm not saying that the above post are wrong i'm just saying that there is a way to make money just mowing yards you just have to have everything in line before you start and dont go in debt to get the business started.

Share This Page