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move south

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mp067, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. mp067

    mp067 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    good evening,
    i was posting this question mainly to lco s in south florida, around the Hernando county area, if there is anyone from there. if not then anyone on the gulf coast.
    i m retiring from 20 years in law enforcement pretty soon(jan), and i m thinking of relocating my lawn service to Florida. i have been doing this for the last two years part time. i am curious about the differences in the business in florida compared to pa. prices, for residential mowing. other services offered along with weekly cutting. type of grasses compared to pa. and if there is a difference in the way u would cut/ and or equipment u would use.
    when i was down visiting family near brooksville fl. i got to talking to a landscaper who stated he quit his regular full time job to go full time in the lawn service business. he was a solo just like i am and had similar equipment to mine. was this guy b-sing me or is there plenty of work? any way this was a little long i know but is a major step i m thinking of taking.
    thanks:help: :help: :help:

    PMLAWN LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,534

    I do not live down there but from what I have seen on this site the money down there is very tight. It seems like what most people do for 40 bucks they do for 20 and have to fight for that.
    My wife has some family down there and we were talking to them ( I also run a handy man service) about gutter cleaning. They have a Mobile with about 30 feet of gutter that gets plugged up. There is a guy that does handyman stuff for a lot of the people down there and they asked him what he charges, He said $25.00. And they freaked!!!!!!!.
    They thought that was WAY overpriced.... They asked me what I thought about that and I was stunned. I just said that I would Have to really look at it and measure it before I could say anything.
    It seems that there are a lot of people doing it and doing it cheap, and a lot of people that have a price point that is very low.

    Want to stay warm during the winter and still make money-- NC --I can not keep up with the work. I name my price. the area is growing so fast that there are people that can not get stuff done. In most of my proposals or "bids" money does not even come up or matter.
    If you do good work people will ask that you only work for them and their friends. I do not advertize and still tell 10 prople a day that I do not have time to work for them.
  3. nelbuts

    nelbuts LawnSite Bronze Member
    from SW, FL
    Messages: 1,053

    Well everyone seems to forget a few things when it comes to FL.

    We pay NO income tax. We get breaks on investments that you do not get. Our property taxes are lower than most areas in northeast. And labor costs for the most part are less.

    I have never worked another job other than my lawn care in almost 20 years so the guy was not giving you a line of BS.

    Here is the problems. There are tons of LCO here in FL. More than you guys ever can imagine. My county alone there are over 200 with license not to mention the part timer after work guys without license. A homeowner will never ask you for insurance, ever. The reason the prices are lower (and I dispute that actually) is that so many are in the market.

    Now coming from the north you have to realize something very important. We have plants you have never seen. In my county what grow really well in the southern part of the county will not survive in the northern part during a cold snap. Now the other thing I hear you talking about rain and drought all the time and how hot it is up north. Folks it starts getting hot here in March and does not really cool down until about the last week of October. The grass grows at least 4-6 inches a week and we have rain almost every day from June till end of October. This year May 12", June 20", July 13" August 15", September 10", and October about 15" this year. We have rain in Nov. and Dec. but things don't grow much till March so you can do extra work if you want. About 98% of all my accounts are yearly paying the same amount each month of the year.

    Then there are the hurricanes. Right now Wilma is coming on shore and I am north of her and getting hammered with rain and some wind. Last year we had Charlie give us a direct hit and three others side swipe us.

    Most companies use some type of Z mowers and the average lawn is at the most 8,000 square feet. You must know the plants and how to prune them or you will look like an idiot when you talk to customers. Plus you can not spray anything including RoundUp without a license. If caught get out your wallet as you could pay up to $5,000 and have your equipment impounded until fine is paid. You can get a limited license to spray RoundUp and shrubs but you will need to take some classes and a test (very easy). Unless you have a degree in horticulture or have worked for a pest control company for three years you can not get your pest control license to spray everything outside. The classes are a little pricey and the test is the toughest in the nation. Fail rate is about 60% or greater each session (I got an 87). If you are caught spraying lawns then you are in deep $ht. Not only from state but from all us lawn guys who worked hard to earn our license. Everyone will report you no questions asked.

    I can't give your a price on how much a residential yard goes for as I do not do them by the cut and most of my properties are package year round deals. Plus the fact that several from my County know me and would not be smart to discuss prices. I will tell you with my commercial accounts and residential accounts I do pretty well.

    Hope this helps you out some. One thing that I would do if I were you would be watch the big cities because you can eat up a lot of time in traffic. If you do go into them then make sure you only take one area to avoid travel. Or lump areas to different days of the week and don't change for anyone. In other words divide up your are ain let's say 5 sections. Mon.-Fri. now Monday you cut in a certain area. DO NOT go to another area on Monday. If you have some one in your Monday area that insists on being cut on Friday, DROP THEM. You run your business and you can not run back and forth to do properties. If you wanted to swap all your Mondays with Fridays then that would work. But think about it you are changing many for one person. Someone may not like it and drop you so was it worth it?

    Good Luck To You.
  4. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    VA ain't bad either and likely SC would be ok but it's always cheaper the further south you go, the further north you go, I think they get 1,000 dollars for starting the lawnmower in Maine, thou I could be wrong lol!
    I hear say it's pulling teeth to get 25-30 in Florida for grass-cutting, here in VA I went from 20 to 30-dollar minimum this year and likely won't be cutting for less than $35 next year (except some grandfathered regulars) but the kicker of it all is, there's guys been around 20-some years doing this who wouldn't touch a lawn for less than $35 back in the early 90's so in some ways things still need a bit of up-to-dating and if you're willing to spend the money advertising and selling leisure and spare time (in which time they can earn extra money lol) instead of grass-cutting, you'll do fine anywhere you go.

    Far as tons of Lco, I count 200 companies visibly advertising in the Yellow book, the Community Phonebook, and a local newspaper. The Lawncare section in the phonebook is ALMOST as big as the next section (lawyers)... I don't know how many Lco's are out there but if 200 are visible, then there's a slew more that are not... This, however, is normal for any big metro area, after all there are 250 thousand households in my county alone, there are 2 VERY populated counties surrounding the city (henrico, chesterfield) then there are surrounding areas, the city itself, we're still looking at well over 20,000 lawns (not all households have lawns, not all lawns need hired help), SOMEONE has to do it and I'm covering 50 so another 399 Lco's times 50 each = 20,000 lawns, all cut and trimmed every week.

    Yup, there's a TON of work *AND* there's a TON of competition.
  5. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    Work is here .. we are a service industry .... sssooo with that in mind .... a decent .... service minded operator will "make it"

    We have NO State Income tax ... but yes must pay Federal Income tax ... we are a "user" tax state .... ie .... if you use it ... you pay a tax .... business is here .. as it is everywhere ....

    What sells is ... good service ... reliability ... fair pricing ... anyone can come down here n make money .... but can that money support the everyday expenses one has ..... THAT is the difference

    Bottom line is .... provide a fair price .... with a good service n you WILL make it ..... have little to none concept of business sense n one will slowly .... sink n swither away ....

    Money is here ... YES .... provide a good service .... charge what is needed to run the business ..... understand that we are not going to get ALL the bids .... just the one's that hit our price .... n go on
  6. mp067

    mp067 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    thanks for the info. i would do it right and get licensed and insured. so that s not a concern and like u said the guys that are legal should not have to compete against the lco flying under the radar. up north here i don t get into chemicals or spraying, i refer my small client base to a service that i use for my own property, so i don t think i would get into the chemical spraying down there either, but if that is a big part of the lawn business down there i would consider it and get educated and licensed.
    thanks again
  7. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,711

    the only thing i will add to nelbuts execellent post is be prepared to do a lot more hedge and shrub trimming than up north. hedeges that get trimmed 2x a summer get it here every 2 weeks at least. everything grows a lot more down here. also you must be able to tolerate the extreme heat -like 95 every day.
  8. mp067

    mp067 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    heat don t bother me. it s the snow and the winter cold that s getting to me.
    love the florida weather.
    from what i m reading, a solo lco can make a decent living as long as he is dependable, and does good work. that s what i like to hear.
    i got a 60 inch rider(exmark), 48 inch w-behind, also exmark. two echo trimmers, echo backpack blower, echo handheld blower, and bush trimmers. single axle trailer pulled by a 04 ford f150.. anything im missing???
  9. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,711

    you may want to get a smaller mower to get into yards with gates. all yards with swimming pools must be enclosed by a fence and there is a minuim gate size opening that was set by the green industry. its 36 inches.gates built before this standard was set can be smaller than 36 so a small mower is needed. a hard working single can do just fine -i do

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