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Hedge Trimming Startup

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by YodaMouse, Sep 18, 2005.

  1. YodaMouse

    YodaMouse LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    I have recently--2 months ago--started a lawn care service, exclusively specialized in bush and hedge trimming. I service a closed community of over 600 homes, (50+ community of rich, bored people,) and currently have about 20 homes on my monthly route. Now the thing is, the lawn guy who cuts the grass doesn't want to do bush and hedge trimming, so he's pretty much ready to give me up to 250 houses from his route.

    I make only $10 to $15 per house, but since they're lined up like ducks in a row, I can usually do about 2 per hour. (I spent seven years as a programmer so I'm sure that will increase as I get conditioned.)

    The lawncare guy says that by me doing the hedge trimming I make his service look good, so he is really pushing me to do as many as possible.

    Long story short, here's my questions:

    1. This seems too good to be true. Should I be worried?
    2. He insist on billing clients himself, and paying me monthly. So far he's been good, but can I rely on that--is this normal?
    3. Am I over specializing here? Should I do mowing to? I've allready dropped $4,000 for Stihl trimmers, trailer, etc...

    Anyhow, sorry for the long monologue. I know the questions may seem redundant, but I'm trying to get some prespective... I can't really ask the guy, "are you honest?"

  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    To put it bluntly, he won't quit paying you, he has found a sucker to do his hedge trimming dirt cheap. He is billing those customers at a much higher rate than what you are actually getting... I guarantee you he is making MORE money on those customers than you are, and he aint lifting a finger!! and what about the clippings, do you ever have to haul anything away?

    I don't dig your set up with that guy at all, not at all. Ditch him and find your own customers.
  3. YodaMouse

    YodaMouse LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Wow, thanks for the quick reply!

    I do in fact haul away the clippings, which costs me about $15 per day, including dump fee and gas for the truck. (About 700 lbs/day.)

    My next question then is how much I should charge for a 30 minute trimming/cleanup if I'm getting my own accounts? What's a realistic industry standard?

    And you're absolutely right. I don't dig the setup either, but so far I've gone along with it because often I can make $120 a day. Should I be making more?

    Lastly, should I be branching out to lawn mowing too?

    I really appreciate your help! Thanks.
  4. hole in one lco

    hole in one lco LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,793

    you can do what you wont but you should be making 40. to 80.0 and hour. you should get 120 a job and doing 6 a day. If you keep you rates at 15.0 you'll get all the work in the world.
  5. YodaMouse

    YodaMouse LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    So I guess charging people $50 an hour is ralistic? Wow... I'm so clueless!

    LOL... So I guess I really am a sucker!! That's okay though, if I never made mistakes, life would be boring.

    I guess I'll stick to this untill I get my own accounts, then I'm going to dump him like a bad rash on prom night. At least now I have an idea how much I should charge people.

    Thanks guys!
  6. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,758

    I agree with Jodi on this one, the guy is making money and you are doing the HARD work. Shrubs are a lot harder to do than mowing. I am trying to drop all my shrubs and I will not even give anymore estimates because my area is real cheap, want it done for 5 bucks an hour. Only shrubs I do are my full time clients and no more one timers at all. I have wasted so much time giving est. decided it is one thing I will drop. If it was worth it I would go with shrub only since nobody likes to do them here either. I have had many calls from folks who have a lco mowing but he does not do shrubs and want me to do it, but do not want to give me their yard work. Did not take me long to learn why other lco did not do them, cheap azzes.
  7. ArizPestWeed

    ArizPestWeed LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,457

    you spent $4,000 so you could make $15 an hour ?
    You crazy ?

    Just ask others what they are paying for the service and offer a little extra to get the job .

    Better yet , goto work for someone else , landscape maintenence , to leard all about the business .
    I did it on my own and would not recomend it , takes toooo long and the mistakes , well.

  8. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    Yea, this guy is making a killing. He should make a decent profit since they are his jobs. The bottom line is, he might not want you if you raise to much, especially if you are doing other jobs cheaper then you want to charge him. If you go up on him then you need to go up even further on your own clientèle.

    I charge $60/hr on the low end with a $60 minimum even if it's one little bush. Normally I charge by the job which brings in a lot more. Like yesterday he did a $300 job that took 3 hours (he did others, that's just one example). I have done as good as $120/hr. Customers can be overwhelmed at the thought of doing hedge trimming. This is why it is best to charge by the job. If the shrubs/bushes look all grown together and a complete mess you can normally go higher because the job looks a lot harder then it really is. We don't market this service outside our mowing customers, but occasionally get a neighbor or two. I guess if you are going for quantity then you will have to offer a lower price.

    As for as branching out, that is up to you. It really depends on how much time you have to offer other services. As for mowing, I worked 8 hours today by myself and grossed $575. Aerations would be a great service to think about.

    Is this guy sending you a 1099 at the end of the year?
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I'm with it here, I charge in the vicinity of $60 / hour for hedge trimming BUT I've been doing it for 4 years and can clip a bush quick... Still, it's not something I do full time, only maybe a dozen times a year, so it shouldn't take you long to get up to speed.

    Until you get up to speed, I would think you can easily get $30/hour and should be able to get up to 35 then 40, you'll likely get stuck at $45 for a bit but really within no time you should have it down pat, seeing how you're specializing, you could later charge MORE for making fancy designs, etc...

    By the way, congrats on the specializing, I always feel the more of ONE thing you do, the faster you'll become an expert in your own field.
  10. YodaMouse

    YodaMouse LawnSite Member
    Messages: 13

    Thank you everyone, you've given me a lot to think about.

    Really the reason I got into this business is because here in central Florida there is a spectacular housing boom. Gated communities and multi-million dollar homes are going up in record time. The county is literally building four lane roads out in the forest, in the middle of nowhere, because there are developers lined up to build entire communities.

    So now I'm just trying to figure out how to grab all the money floating out there. Work smart, not hard I guess.

    By the way, I have a pretty broken down Chevy 1500. Have you guys found that it's harder to be viewed as a serious lawn service because of your vehicle and equipment? Could I be getting screwed because my truck is canary yellow and looks like it was used as a bomb for Iraq?

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