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Let's hear some start up stories!

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by BlueGrassBoy, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. BlueGrassBoy

    BlueGrassBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    I just joined this forum today because I am interested in working in the lawn care industry. I would like to hear some stories about your early/beginning days in this business. Tell us the ups and downs or anything else you'd like to share about getting started in this industry. What equipment you had, why you started doing this, etc. Anything goes. Thanks guys.


  2. ringahding

    ringahding LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 611

    Here is a link to my My Story avoiding a whole page to be taken up.
  3. BESSY12

    BESSY12 LawnSite Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 12

    Interesting thread actually...

    I started my company officially back in May of 2011. At the age of 10, I started out with a 200 dollar Canadian Tire special, push mower; your basic, cheapo, B and S 21" mower. I slowly started with a mere 2 accounts, making about 40 bucks a week. But I stuck to my guns, and this past May, I got into a government grant called the "Summer Company Program". I had to write and submit an entire business plan, and had to wait for a yay or nay from the ministry.
    When I was ok-ed for the program, I was given the money I budgeted for (about 1300 of the total 1500 available) and I set out to get myself a registered business name, a business license and the rest of the proper paperwork. I went out and spent the money allotted to me. A few weeks before my start date, I had not made some large purchases yet, lucky for me, because my lawnmower died.

    I ended up having to spend 1700 dollars of my own money in addition to the 600 I had budgeted for equip. to purchase a new riding mower. Why a riding mower you ask? because I don't own my own truck or vehicle, and the majority of the properties I take care of are within my town of about 500 residents, therefore everything is within biking (or riding lawnmower) distance. I hook up a small cart behind my new JD and go off for a day of work.

    I spent the summer doing the usual mowing jobs, working mostly weekly accounts for locals and cottagers alike, and got myself my first public property account which turned out to be a local church. That proved to be a lesson for me in estimating. I quoted them 30 bucks a cut, mowed, trimmed, and blown, just as I would do for any homeowner. I figure the lot was about 2 acres give or take, and included a reasonable amount of trimming. I could finish the property in an hour without too much time. Add on 10 minutes of travel either way, and you have 1.3 hours for the price of 30 bucks. Not much profit there now is there. Soon after, the group doing the program with me had our first meeting, and I was given a wakeup call. "I don't know what you are charging, but I know it's not enough." said a business owner speaking for the group. Boy was he right. I immediately made a promise to myself to up the stakes for my future clients. Don’t waste your time working for peanuts, set a price that is fair and profitable. you will lose clientele, but you will also find the quality clients who are willing to pay for the quality you provide.

    I also managed to get a few jobs throughout the summer doing everything from garden bedding and spreading mulch, to rototilling (of which I learned to hate fairly quickly). By the end of the summer, I figure I had a gross income of about 5000 give or take. My net was a 2000 and change after my equipment and bills were up to date.

    I continued throughout the fall as best I could, working most weekends and most nights after school and managed to pull in another thousand or so, bringing me to the winter months and where I sit now. With a reasonably well established company, a healthy customer base, and a hunger for money.

    The moral of the story is, it’s not about the equipment and it’s not about the money (though it helps). If I had to credit someone with my success, I would have to credit the words of the wise, the experience gained from the SC program, and my own shear stubbornness.
  4. Dr.NewEarth

    Dr.NewEarth LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,476

    This site wasn't around when I started up years ago. Thank-you Lawnsite.com
  5. BlueGrassBoy

    BlueGrassBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    Thanks for the reply BESSY, I only wish more site members were willing to share their stories.
  6. huntlawncare

    huntlawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    i started out in 98 and borrowed everything to start up with , mower , trailer weedeater and blower , and with only 3 accounts . today i have 2 commercial JD 16ft trailer blowers weedeaters and 50 accounts . and trying to grow
  7. BCboy

    BCboy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    I bought a established lawn company.
    It had a POS (piece of $hit) truck, 2 mowers, aerator, power rake, trailer, blower,and some small stuff.
    If I remember it had about 80 client, grossing $55k.
    I had instant cash coming in which replaced my previous income.
    I started to up grade the equipment. I hate having problems in the field. But my best move was getting a good truck.
    By the time I sold the company 5 years later I had over 140 weekly clients and was grossing over $130k. I had 2 employees with me.
    The guy who bought it ran it in to the ground. It is now up for sale at $35k. 55 clients and grosses $45k. What a shame !!!
  8. BlueGrassBoy

    BlueGrassBoy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 41

    The guy who bought it ran it in to the ground. It is now up for sale at $35k. 55 clients and grosses $45k. What a shame !!!
    01-05-2012 10:08 PM

    Why did you get out of the business if you were grossing over 100k?
  9. BCboy

    BCboy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    Here is the short story.
    I have been in construction (drywall boarding) since 1989.
    My partner & I hit a slow period around 1999 and I wanted a change
    I saw a add in the local paper and bought the company.
    I would go back drywalling over the winters and the pay rate (by the sq. foot) just kept getting better.
    In 2002 my Mom passed away, I lost a huge commercial cont. ($35k), employees were horrible, and we had the largest forest fire in North America destroy part of our city. Heres the link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Okanagan_Mountain_Park_Fire
    The fire was stopped 50 feet from my yard !http://media.lawrence.com/img/photo....jpg?9e2a24ba44807f8f9b96aad7c4082bf6ded075dc
    All of this took a huge toll on me & my family, so I sold.
    My only regret was seeing something I worked so hard on be ruined.

    Now...I am back.
    I signed my first strata which is like (I believe) a home owners assn. HOA.
    Spring/fall pruning & clean up, irrigation maint., and 30 mowings = $23k plus tax. About $3,000 a month over 8 months will replace 1/3 of my drywall wage for the year. I have been asked to price a bigger one which will replace the other 2/3s. And I will only work 2 days a week for 8 months.
  10. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Well decreased customers 31%

    Decreased sales 18%

    Seems he got rid of the low profit margin pain in the butt customers. Less wear and tear on equipment free up schedule to go after better class of customer

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