Help the newb out please

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by Matto, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. Matto

    Matto LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Alright guys, I'm pretty familiar with the lawn business, but only on the aspect of the "worker" not the owner. When I was about 14 I worked for one of the bigger companies in my city... they seemed to like my work pretty well but I quit once school started. Anyways, worked a job in between there in retail, then this summer a buddy of mine who has about 80 accounts over a two week base asked me about working for him. Originally, I was going to try to start my own thing, but I had a crappy weed eater, crappy blower, and a crappy pusher, so I figured it'd be easier this way. In some aspects I'm glad I decided to work with him because I'm more familiar with on the how to. I'm pretty good edging with the weed eater and I'm good at weedeating, blowing off, etc. But I must say, I hate working for someone and want to do my own thing, I hate doing the majority of the work and getting paid a small portion. Although I do know equipment and gas come into play, but still.

    So onto my topic. I plan on saving up some of the money I've earned working for him and buying new equipment this winter. Heres what I have in mind, I plan on getting a Stihl straight shaft weed eater, probably a Stihl blower, most likely the hand one because 400 for a backpack is out of my league. Then I'd like to get a Lawn Boy push mower. I'm guessing Lawn Boy makes the best push mowers for residential lawns? They seem like they're up there in price. Also I plan on just doing residential lawns that aren't huge, just something in the 25-35 dollar range. What do you guys think of my equipment choices? I know Stihl is pretty good, it's what we use on the job, and besides having some problems lately with one of the weed eaters, they seem pretty tough.

    Now the business aspect. I live in a city of about 20,000 people, there are a lot of homes and neighborhoods, and like you know, a lot of lawn business's but they're usually the big boys with riders and stuff. What do you guys think the most efficient and promising way to get accounts will be? I was thinking flyers, but I've heard a lot of people say they pass out hundreds and may get one phone call. Not sure if that will be my luck, but I'd hae spending all that time for little results. But I'm not sure how else to get the word out. My plan is getting like 15 every week accounts, or somewhere in that area. I don't want below 10 every week accounts, because I'd like to pull in atleast a grand a month so I can help pops with college. BTW I'm 17 and a senior in HS right now. I don't mind busting my ass in the sun and making stuff look nice, it's just getting the actual work I seem to be sweating.

    Any help is appreciated, sorry for the length, got carried away :)

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    As far as 21" mowers, I always hear good things about Toros. I've also heard well about LawnBoys.

    Personally, I own Shindaiwa edgers and trimmers, and a Stihl handheld blower. That Stihl is amazing. Sits around for months over the winter, but starts on the first pull in March. Never had any trouble with it.

    Flyers are a great way to get started, but you can realistically expect maybe a 1% response from them. So you pass out 1,000 to get 10 calls. See if theres anyone in your area that distributes them. Also consider ads in community newsletters, they are cheap and get you calls.

    I've been sticking my business cards on bulletin boards in Starbucks. Its free and thats what they are there for. No calls as of yet, just tried this recently.
  3. Matto

    Matto LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Thanks for the reply man. Anyone else? Help me out here, I don't want to purchase a grand in equipment to have it sit around.
  4. Wreak

    Wreak LawnSite Member
    Messages: 90

    Ya, Lawnboy's are a good residential mower for mowing your yard 3 to 4 times a month but I wouldn't buy one if you plan on doing 3 to 4 yards per day...that thing will blow up on you. Try to get something a little nicer like a Toro or Snapper commercial grade, sure they cost 300+ (might find a good used one) but they will last you.

    Stihl is a good choice or Echo.

    You might even be able to find a nice used rider for sale for 1 or 200 bucks. Use the rider to tow your pusher (for the smaller areas) and ride around the neighborhood mowing. You can make some pretty good money especially when the people want extra work done.

    Good luck and I'm sure pops will be really happy to see you making your own money to help out with things.
  5. Matto

    Matto LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    I thought LawnBoy's made pushers that have the commercial engine in them? Are they still as weak? I'm probably going to be mowing hopefully 10-15 yards a week. Also, the Lawn Boys I've been looking at are around 400 or so bucks, how much are the toro and Snapper ones? Thanks for the help man.
  6. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    This may sound dumb but you can always buy a broom instead of a blower then if things are working out keep buying better more effecient equipment. Although if your doing spring and fall clean ups a broom wont help much.
  7. Matto

    Matto LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Yeah I really don't want to use a broom though, it would take too long plus if there were clumps or lines in the yard or anything I could always blow them out with a blower. I guess the blower and weed eater I'm not too concerned with, because I am more familiar with them. I just want a good self propelled push mower that will last long and cut good for around 400 bucks or so. I know that whenever the guy I work for right now was going to get a new self propelled because the one we use right now is turning to chit, he talked to this very popular lawn place and they recommended him the Lawn Boy or the Exmark push mowers, but theres a big difference in price between the two.
  8. Mastercutts

    Mastercutts LawnSite Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 2

    Hey Matto, I'm ryan, im 18, just graduated from HS in Florida. Ive been mowing lawns for a long time now, bout five years. At first, I was by myself, but then these past three years, I have had an extra man to help me out. That was stupid though, cause you don't need an extra man. I use flyers, and word of mouth for my business. Three thousand flyers to be exact. This past summer I bought a 22 inch mulcher, made by toro, its called the self pace lawn mower, it bags great, specially for cleaning up after trimming bushes. ( rake the debris into a line and run that bagger over it three times and there you go) Anyway, that is rear self propelled, and it goes as fast you want to walk up to four pt three miles per hour. Its hard to keep up with it. I got it at home depot for around 417 with tax. Its a very good dependable lawn mower. Main thing you gotta do though is change that air filter, plug, and oil about every fifty or sixy mows. Thats what I do, and its running like a champ. Echo is good stuff to, and its a little cheaper. If your gonna go into this for two or three years though you might wanna go up to the next levels. Something you should consider though and its unbelievable cheap is a 36 in walk behind made my exmark, its $2069. Thats what im getting in a day or so. The good thing bout this size deck is that you can get in the back yards through the gates still. I try to do about 25 to 35 yards a week next year. right now I only have about 37 people but they are two weekers. With that mower though, you could do up to ten yards a day, at 35 40 bucks, 3 to 4 days a week and make around 1200 or 1600 a week. take out half that, and save up for bigger. doesn't matter that you are 17. when I was 17, I had about 25 yards, but I chose them carefully making sure that they were $45 and up. Main thing people care about is good work. If you do just as good as the "big dudes:" and your ten or 15 bucks cheaper, you can get their customers. Another service you can off is fertilzing. I charge 18 or 20 per 5000 feet, which is usually a bag. If your picking it up for them, charge them for that also, and make sure they reinburse you. Go big man, and don't be afraid to quote right, worst thing you can do is underquote yourself. The whole time your mowing you will beat yourslef up, but if you, just speak up and let them know, offer a counter quote and if they don't like it well, im sure theres more grass that you could cut in the time you did theres for more money. another thing that i have found for adults to take me seriously on is having a uniform, and magnetic signs. Atleast that is what im told. Try this stuff, got any questions, email me, Love to hear how its going for you.

  9. sgl41377

    sgl41377 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 191

    That all seems like a great plan, but one more thing to ponder over. INSURANCE. How would your dad feel if you got sued because someone got hurt while you were working on a property. Liability insurance is a must in this business. $400 per year will have you covered.
  10. Matto

    Matto LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Thanks for the reply bro,I'll look into that Toro lawn mower, sounds like a pretty good price. I really just want something that cuts really good and even and will run good, sounds like your having good luck with that. I really don't have any desire to get a big walk behind like that. I'd be more than happy if I were pulling in around 1250 or so a month during the summer. As far as doing good work, I'm pretty sure I'll be doing top notch work, the guy I work for right now is very good at what he does, and I've learned a lot, and I see a lot of places in my city that doing really bad jobs yet people continue to employee them. Anyways, I may run off to home depot today and check it out. Thanks for the help man.

    As far as the insurance thing, I won't have anyone working for me so I don't have to worry about the getting someone hurt part.

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