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making $$ solo in the northern states

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lawnchopper, Jan 25, 2005.

  1. lawnchopper

    lawnchopper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    ive been in the LC industry for 10+ yrs and im starting to see the light in being a owner op. Im starting to get word of mouth leads from commercial properites and friends and aquaintences want me to cut their homes and are reffering me to others. I dont even own a mower and im getting leads and i dont think i can turn this stuff down Im not even advertising though the area appers to somewhat saturated with the Sears Craftsmens (scrubs) guys popping up everywhere. Im sick of the $12.00 8 months a yr and pittaly unemployment in the winter i get as a employee.
    So can I make good coin like $30.000-50.000 or whatever staying solo??
    How diversified would i have to be meaning can i just mow and do cleanups
    or do i have to prune and fert/weed control??? However i would plow snow and i dont want employees. Most residential cuts are bout $35-40 a cut

    My problems are i still live in a apartment so i cannot store anything
    i also still have some credit card debt and owe on my blazer. Should i buy a home so i can store my equipment but how do you do that when you only make $12 a hr??? arrgghhh!!
    would that Lawncare success manual be helpful??
    Where to start??
  2. Eddie B

    Eddie B LawnSite Senior Member
    from gone
    Messages: 859

    I started with a '90 dodge caravan and threw a snapper 28" rider, a Toro 21" push mower, and an echo trimmer in the back. I also live with my parents (i'm 19). How sad! Last year I got a trailer and 2 more mowers. Since I lived with my parents, I had no place to store the trailer or equipment. I spoke with the owner of a local storage facility, and we agreed on year-round storage of my equipment if I maintain the front storage property. (not much grass, takes about 10 minutes to knock out). I pulled out a loan and purchased the 2 bobcat WB's, and put out 800 flyers. the turnout was great. Loan paid off in 2 months. I've since purchased a newer truck. Just to give you some ideas. And i'm only 19.
  3. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,845

    Can you get enough credit to just get started - by that I mean like used JD or other commercial brands, and a small trailer that you may even pull with your car. Then work up - Being solo (I am solo) is great. No workman's comp insurance, no hassels with lazy employees. My mowers generate about $115 per hr. I do not use that number though. I also count windshield time, and when I do that, my mower generates $72 per hr. Not bad huh.

    They can talk all they want as to "How much do you charge per acre?" It is really in efficiency that makes the bottom line talk.
  4. Turfcutters Plus

    Turfcutters Plus LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 391

    You said it flex-deck.Being solo is great! :p
  5. The landscaper

    The landscaper LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 845

    Isnt there a roof or cap on how much you can make going solo tho. I am not trying to put it down but it seems like you are still limiting yourself. Just my opinion. But maybe a lot of guys dont need a whole lot.
  6. DennisF

    DennisF LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Florida
    Messages: 1,381

    Get a small open trailer and a good 48-60 inch WB mower. A trimmer, edger, blower and your license/insurance and you're in business. Store the equipment in a 24 hour storage facility for $60 per month. Start out part time and keep your present job until you can jump to full time. Build your customer base slowly until you have enough cash stashed away to buy a new ZTR. Keep the WB mower for back-up and use the ZTR as the primary mower.

    used 10-12 ft. open trailer $500
    good used hydro WB mower $2000
    hand held equpment/blower $1000
    Insurance/license $750
    1 year storage fee in advance $750

    Total up front cost $5000

    Hook the trailer up to that blazer and go cut grass. Even part time you should be able to handle 30-40 lawns per week as a solo. Those 30 lawns should generate $3000 minimum per month in revenue. Expenses should cut that by 40%, but you still have $1800 per month of income to stash for that ZTR. Once you get the ZTR you can increase the customer base to 75 or more lawns... depending on how much abuse you can take. Now you're full time and on your own. What a feeling!

    There is nothing better than operating solo. You are in total control of the business and you can make as much money as you like without the hassles of employees.

    Stay in the apartment until you have saved enough for a good down payment on a house (10-20%). When you buy the house remember 3 things... location... location...location.
  7. Sir Mow-A-Lot

    Sir Mow-A-Lot LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    Hey flex-deck, how do your mowers make $115 an hour?
    I could not do a $40 lawn (the right way) in 20 minutes!
  8. deereman

    deereman LawnSite Senior Member
    from USA
    Messages: 518

    If you could work around your current job just to get started I would think that you would be way farther ahead. We are a zero debt. company an this was one way of achieving this . I admit it is not fun , but if this is really what you want it might be a good option. Do you have family , friends that could help you out to get started? I mean for there help? However I would not do both if your quality of work would suffer, that would get ugly real fast. But that is how we started. YOU just have to decide what will work and what wont..................Good luck
  9. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    Yeah, until you break your leg, or worse. I had a call for an estimate from a lady who's current lawn guy had cut his foot real bad and hadn't cut in 3 weeks. When I got there, she said her 3 neighbors who all use this guy would be interested in an estimate too.
    This guy was losing customers left and right (but not to me, 'cause he was a lowballer and they wouldn't pay my price. Oh well, someone got them I'm sure).

    There's a hundred things that can happen to you that can keep you from working. That's too big of a gamble for me.

    Plus, I don't have any desire to be out cutting lawns at 50-60 years old.
    And as said already, a solo operator can only make so much by himself.

    Working solo is short term thinking in my opinion
  10. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,699

    Yes, you can make 30 to 50 a year solo and make it without being full service. I'm going to guess that you are currently working for someone else cutting grass at 8 per hour. My first question is why are you still only making 8 an hour after 10 years in the field?

    If you are getting referrals already then you should be doing some pretty decent work. This is good and you should be able to make good money despite the competition.

    Can you or should you buy a house? If you tell me where you actually live I can help you out a little with this. Not all areas are the same in regards to real estate. I can give you an idea of how much money you will have to make to qualify for a loan to buy a house.

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