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Many, many questions

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by njsnakeman, Jun 13, 2007.

  1. njsnakeman

    njsnakeman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I've got many questions, i've only done a little bit of local cutting/trimming.. so please excuse my novice questions.

    I want to cut grass, but I'm also going to school.. so there is a limit to the ammount of work I can do. I was thinking maybe 20-25 lawns/week if I'm only doing this myself, and maybe 30-40 with another guy (it's no partnership, employee). Does anyone else have limits to how many lawns you cut a week? How do you let the public know, or do you just inform them that you're booked when a customer calls?

    What is the least I should charge for an average sized suburban lawn? I was thinking $30.00, but with these gas prices, I'm not so sure.

    What should you do if you get a customer with a really crappy lawn? Couple years back I cut grass for some old guy, but it wasn't really cutting grass. His backyard was full of rocks, stones, sticks, it was a pain in the ass, plus i dulled my blade up.

    How much gas would I use up cutting/trimming/blowing 25 lawns/week? How much would this cost me/week/per cut?

    When a customer calls up and wants their lawns done, what if they want it done every two weeks? Is this a problem for any of you, I would like to have customers that want their lawns cut weekly.

    What if all I can do is cut grass/trim? I don't know about the full on mulching, shrubery, etc. (yet, anyways). Does anyone stick strictly to mowing?

    What do you guys do with the grass? I always bagged it, but is there an alternative that is easier and quicker? Just pouring it into a bin/barrel maybe?

    I don't know how "professional" this is, but all I've got is a big ol' 1988 Ford Ecoline 150 with a nice hitch on the back.. There is alot of room inside for a ride-on, a push mower, gas cans, trimmer/blower.. but if need be (probably) I can get a trailer. Would this be acceptable? I see all the serious guys with big Ford F350's and such.

    Sorry for all the non sensible questions.. :hammerhead:

    Any advice is very much appreaciated.

    Brandon - New Jooiseyy
  2. Novaowner

    Novaowner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    I had a person call me and ask for an estimate yesterday for lawn mowing. So I had time to go out today and give them one. I knew I might be in trouble when I heard "look for the beige trailer". So I get lost in the country looking for it, and I call them to ask for more directions. The older son gets on the phone and say's, "I see you from the front porch." I look all around, at this point I am standing outside my truck, and don't see him. Anyway I finally see the gravel driveway through grass which is hip high. I walk down the driveway towards him and notice his entire "front yard" is a hay field or pasture. Sure enough that is what he wants hacked down. I told him, "You need to get someone with a bush hog out here." Never once did they mention on the phone that the grass was that high. The "yard" had rocks everywhere, and I mean some big rocks. I was courteous, but it was hard for sure. I just wasted like 30 minutes of time and fuel. Anyway I was nice and suggested he get someone with a tractor and bushhog out there to take care of it. I wasn't about to beat up my ZTR on his yard for small change.
  3. njsnakeman

    njsnakeman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    thanks nova...

    c'mon guys! i need some advice!
  4. M&SLawnCare

    M&SLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    Once you fill up just stop advertising and tell any new people that call that your schedule is full.

    30 is the lowest i charge, however that will of course depend on where you live and the size of the jobs. Market value is completely different from place to place.

    You have 2 options here, turn the job down or take it and charge extra. Personally i take what i can get. I don't use my good mower on these jobs though (use my older scotts lawn tractor, my primary 36" exmark metro wouldn't touch a yard i was afraid could break it), and you have to be extra careful. Theirs no telling what is hiding under tall grass. I actually like these jobs. I usually don't make any money on that rough first cut, but its a good feeling to turn a completely over grown yard into a nicely manicured lawn, and 95% of the time they stick with me through the year. Also I've found it makes for a heck of a good advertisement if done in a well traveled area.

    Depends on too many factors. How big are the jobs, what equipment, how fast do you go, obviously what price the gas is in your area and so on. Only you can answer that and the only way to know is to try it and see.

    Everyone prefers weekly, but i accept every 2 weeks. Just try to balance it out. If customer A and B live close and both want it done every 2 weeks. Do them on different weeks so your schedule stays balanced. You don't want to have 12 hours of mowing one day then 4 hours of mowing on the same day the following week, and so on.

    I strictly mow. I plan to expand to mulch and hedge trimming next year though. I do take on small brush clearing and such jobs sometimes. You don't really need any experience or special equipment to pull out brush or cut down very small trees.

    Easiest method is side discharge. Thats what 90% of LCO's do. You could also mulch it. However sometimes you have to bag to make it look good. I bag a lot of my jobs and i just dump it in the back of my truck. Then dump the truck at a local grass dump that my township has for free.

    I use a 1991 ford F150. I'd defiantly get a trailer. Its more professional, easier, and safer than loading a vehicle with the equipment. If i remember right the ecoline is a big van right? I wouldn't want mowers covered in dead grass sitting inside my vehicle, the smell would be awful. Especially if you mow a yard with dogs that isn't cleaned up... Used trailers are so cheap that theirs really no reason not to get one.
  5. njsnakeman

    njsnakeman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Yes, this old ecoline is a big old van, nice hitch so i'll get a trailer.

    Thanks a lot! That's the response I was looking for! :clapping:
  6. James Theodore

    James Theodore LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Just bid any new jobs higher! If you get the customer, then go to your least favorite job and tell him the rate for his yard just went up. This will help you maintain higher profits and/or weed out those few undesirable accounts!
  7. Your Lawn First

    Your Lawn First LawnSite Member
    Messages: 56

    I have 55 customers and Im a one man crew and only work 6-8 hours a day and 5 days a week but no full time school. to answer your question it all depends on the time you have.

    the least I charge is $25 for a small little yard about 600 sq feet. to find out a better price what you can do is have someone in the business come and estimate your yard and take it from there.

    Crappy yards look before your first mow and make your choice then to mow or not don't ever talk somebodys word over the phone about there lawn, always tell them you will come out and give a free estimate.It will work out for you better in the long run.

    How much gas will you use couldn't tell you this all depends on you mower,trimmer,blower, truck, windshield time, gas prices, size of yard, ect. I could go on. I use $700-800 a month for 55 customers but have very little windshield time that helps a lot.

    Customers that want there lawn cutt every two weeks sorry can't do it I only cut every week, or if you want to charge them double and they say yes then go for it. these people tend to have those bad yards you asked about. But if you are jsut starting out and are trying to build customers go for it to establish yourself. Myself I wouldn't do it.

    Strickly mowing is how I started out, know I do the hole thing mulch, driveway paving, landscape, ect. I'll I can tell you is read and go out and do. you will more then likley going to mess up the first time but you will learn, get as much knowledge as you can.

    If you are bagging every week you have your mower to low you should not need to bag at all, putting the grass clippings back into the yard helps the yard the clippings are 90% water and will allow the yard to grow. I'm guessing you have it to low. You want the lawn to be 3 inches tall at all times and never cut off more the 1/3 of the blade.

    When I was 17 I started with a little S-10 no trailer and just a push mower trimmer and a broom to clean up after, so of course it is ok. As you grow you will get all that stuff later. It takes time but if you want that new F-350 of Chevy Silverado or you wife driving that new BMW745i you can easily do it but you have to want it.

    Good luck and read this hole website it will help you along the way.

    Hope this helps
  8. eauxkielawns

    eauxkielawns LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    Forget the bagging. I only bag after I de-thatch. There are guys out there that bag every time, but they charge extra. This is understandable since it takes extra time to bag, load then find a place to get rid of the clippings. So I would charge more for your time or look at getting a good mulching mower. In my opinion the best 2 mulching push mowers are Honda and Toro commercial models.

    I personally take on any job the customer needs; cleaning flower beds, hedges, tree trimming, cleaning gutters. This is just to keep the competion away from my customer.

    As far as over grown lawns you have to charge more the first time. It is harder on your equipment and will take you more time...time is money. Tell them it will cost $$$ today and $$$ per week after that.

    Good luck to ya.

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