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How do I compete?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Bob-Cat#1, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Bob-Cat#1

    Bob-Cat#1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 110

    I am finding that I am faced with LCO's with almost no overhead. How do I compete? They have old mowers that were paid for years ago, and are in great working order. They do a great job mowing. They work part time after their normal 9-5 job. I know for a fact that they have no insurance or any licenses, no official business name, and I assume they aren't paying sales tax either (against the law in Wisconsin). I am really pushing hard for new commercial accounts in my area. I wanted to bid on the local movie theater. I found out that a local guy described above is mowing the 5 acre property, granted mostly parking for $30. He doesn't need the money so it's not like he'll be going out of business soon or anything. They're all out picking up extra cash. Is there something I can report them for? Is it required to have insurance? Is it required to register your business? Who do I report them too? I feel the only way I can compete is to get them to pay for all of the licenses and insurance just like I had to. Or maybe the answer is to drop mine and join them... Let me know what you think.
  2. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    Welcome to the jungle........
  3. green thum

    green thum LawnSite Member
    Messages: 162

    :blob3: scrubs!!!!!
  4. rachel3511

    rachel3511 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Well, I am not exactly "that person" you describe, but close.

    I make more money from my non-lawncare business than I ever could make from lawncare, so lawncare for me is exercise, something I love, and something to do. My other business only takes 1-2hrs per day.

    Now unlike those you referenced I do collect state sales tax, have insurance, and am licensed. Licensing and insurance is only a few spring cleanups each year. Everyone complains about it, but it truly is not that expensive.

    I also have no employees, or if I do use extra labor for big jobs like mulching, I pay my nephew 7.00. For a HS kid he's very happy.

    I would never do the job you mentioned for 30.00, but most of the lawns in my area the other guys bid at 35.00 minimum!! Please!! The lawns that go for 35.00 are tiny, 15 minutes to mow trim blow. I bid those at 24-26 and get every one I bid almost. I get them in tight groups in neighborhoods and can do 20 in a day. I do this three days per week then do mulch and other things on one other day.

    For these tiny yards some guy had 12 doctors in one neighborhood and was charging them all 40-50 for each one. I let the one doctor know just how badly he was being ripped off, and now he has gotten every single one of those yards for me, plus all of their mulch jobs which is normally $300 for 2-3hrs work. Pruning, snow, fert, aeration, etc..... all 12 docs now give me all that.

    So basically due to my other business I am able to more than pay all the bills, so everything I make from lawncare is just extra for vacations, RE investing, IRA's, trading, etc.

    Sorry for the rant there, just trying to show you the other side, and maybe some of those guys are just like me. Doing it only for fun and for fun money.

    My best suggestion and one my best money makers is this. Hit the newer neighborhoods that have tiny yards. That is a trend here in OH. No yard at all, often 30x50 yards or less! I can do that in about 10-12 mins mow trim blow. I put out 1400 fliers in this type of neighborhood for 19.95 each. I am getting 3-4 new calls from these fliers per day and closing every sale since they already know their price. I think I am up to 38 calls as of today from just 1400 fliers. PLUS I still get their side work very often! In a neighborhood of 300 houses I am getting 15-20 houses all within a quarter mile and more adding on each day. Averaging on the very low side thats roughly 80.00/hr and I can easily make that 100/hr + by working quicker. But since it's something I love doing, not have to do, I don't work quicker.

    Good luck this season!
  5. SOMM

    SOMM LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 425

    More than enough work for any of us on the face of God's green earth, Bob. Just look for under-served markets within a 15-20 mile radius.
    You'll find a niche - or three that will work well for you, be creative.

    If it's green, cut it.
  6. rachel3511

    rachel3511 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Forgot to mention:

    My equipment consists of:

    1997 S-10 V6 that I paid $3200 cash long ago.
    Used 5x8 trailer that I paid $400 cash for
    2001 Exmark 52" WB that I paid $1850 cash for a year ago
    Lawnboy 21" I paid $400 for
    Echo blower paid 260 for
    Echo trimmer paid 220 for
    Echo edger paid 150 for used
    Corp fees $85.00 for the year
    Insurance $430.00 for the year
    Few other things like broadcast spreader, etc.

    The S-10 is something I have had for a couple years and would have had anyway, so I didn't have to buy it just for the business.

    I have a few grand in equipment that I bought at good enough values I could sell them in a couple years and recoup 75% of my money. My S-10 pulls the equip just fine and I get around 21MPG towing the trailer and 27MPG without it.

    My farthest house is 4.5 miles from my house and two out of three days I can complete my route in under 10 RT miles = very cheap gas costs!

    The best part is still having 3-4 days for golf or mini-vacations each week!
  7. Bob-Cat#1

    Bob-Cat#1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 110

    Thanks for your comments, but you're not really answering my question. I am a legal business. I became one because it's the law. I expect that my competition is bound by the same laws as I am... I want to know who to report them to so we can compete on a level playing field. Anyone know?
  8. rachel3511

    rachel3511 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Different states different laws.

    In IL it would be the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation

    I would send a message to the secretary of the state, dept of revenue, etc and find out where to report them to.
  9. promower

    promower LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,233

    So rachel how ya gonna feel when the next guy comes in and tells that doctor how bad hes getting ripped off and takes all those lawns from you. You cant get to mad though it's vacation money for you, the guy you took them from is what he does to make a living. And the guy that took them from you, he doesnt make enough off those accounts for vacations but its good for some extra beer money. I know this is a dog eat dog business but I hate to hear when people just doing it for the extra money cut throat the guys trying to make a living. Gets harder every year to make a living at this when the part timers do it just for a little extra cash.
  10. nobagger

    nobagger LawnSite Gold Member
    from Pa
    Messages: 3,065

    rachel- how is it in cincy? My parents lived in Mainville a couple of years ago and when they first moved there, there were no houses in a newly developed subdivision. And now when helping them move back in that same subdivision there must have been over 200 homes. So yeah try newer subdivisions, have neighborhood discounts to try and gain customer loyalty. :waving:

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