Mowing only in Central and South Florida

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by brucec32, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I am curious if anyone has had much success sticking to mowing lawns in Central or South Florida? The grass grows for a large part of the year, which makes it more attractive to specialize in this vs. northern climates. But many landscapes here are rather intricately done and beautiful, so I assume there is a bigger emphasis on trimming and pruning than where the shrubs are not as big a part of the landscape (or grow as fast!)

    I can handle trimming and pruning shrubs, but the plants here are totally different and will take a while to learn about. I've always hated to try and bluff my way in as an "expert", and would prefer to learn the stuff before I charge for it. I also don't mind mulching some beds from time to time.

    But, is the market such that anyone who wants you to mow their lawn also wants you to handle all the trimming? I know that back in Atlanta I had zero problems finding plenty of "mow only" customers and a few "2x a year" pruning customers.
  2. nelbuts

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

    Sure you can do it if you want but look at it like this

    You do great job at mowing make some money

    But shrubs look like crap, weeds in beds, etc. and then people see your rig parked in front mowing.

    I offer full service shrubs, fert. weeds in beds, pest. on shrubs, and about anything else I can get money for.

    One more thing if you don't prune who will?

    From where I stand I don't want anyone on MY properties.

    Been doing this since 1986.
  3. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Good point Nelbuts. I always hated when I left a lawn nicely mowed but the rest of it was a mess. As for who else does it....In the past the ones I didn't prune on did it themselves mostly, a few had a regular guy who did it for them but who didn't do mowing, more of a "gardener" type who didn't want the equipment investment I guess. I found that many people just wanted relief from the weekly chore than can't be delayed for a vacation or a golf game, usually guys who had previously always mowed it themselves but were getting tired of that. But in Georgia the shrubs needed trimming only 2-4 times a year, the lawns tended to be a higher % of lawn vs planting beds, many used very low maintenance shrubs anyway, and they could always find a little time for that when it was convenient. But others sometimes just let it ride and it did look bad.

    I prefer to leave the fertilizer and weed control to subs or specialists, however. I did that for a few years a while back and found it didn't pay on my small scale once I factored in schedule disruptions due to weather, callbacks, added insurance, licensing costs, and hassles when customers didn't water or were too picky. Lawn problems didn't become MY problem, which kept it simple, which suits my style.

    Full service is great, but I'm not set up for it and probably never will be. (requires employees). I like mowing because it's the easiest and simpliest and for me has always paid the best. I am reading every book on Fla shrubs I can get my hands on, but nothing substitutes for common knowledge gained with hands on experience. I will muddle through the first year and see how it goes.
  4. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    I have quite a few mow only, but they are for the most part, crappy bahia lawns. I do have a few that like to do their own trimming.
  5. jlcare

    jlcare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 57

    Brucec32,did you move to fla.?
  6. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    I've found that doing just the lawn mowing is extreamely competitive, but if you can offer pruning services it will put you one step above the rest of the scrubs down here. The same customer that complains about my price for mowing (I am usually higher than my competition) will not say anything about me charging $35 - $40 per hour for pruning.
  7. HOMER

    HOMER LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,183

    Hey Bruces,

    Sounds like your out of your element.

    I understand what your saying because I love being a 75% mow-blow-go kinda guy. I do some pruning but it's mostly at the commercial properties I maintain. In my area there isn't a big demand for everthing being nit picked.......customers for the most part are not as picky as in other parts of the country..........and I'm happy that way. Nearly every one of my mowing customers average $60-$70 an hour. When I stop to do pruning or anything other than what my niche is I begin to lose that efficiency. I have yearly agreements with all my customers, I will do their pruning if they ask but it's going to done at a flat rate, not hourly, and it's gonna be quoted in such a way that I will make what I could have been making if I were mowing........that way I still make my average just get behind on the route. Lucky for me everyone around here charges outrageous prices for shrub and bed work. Most of the time my prices are cheaper and they usually never complain. Sounds like you need to network with somebody and get them to do all your pruning so you can concentrate on your "niche".
  8. ProMo

    ProMo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,468

    I dont know the guy well but he has given me a few leads that wanted full service all he does is mow, I have 3 customers that are mow only the rest are trimmed and weeds in beds are sprayed. My prices were way to low and i was showing up 51x per year to do whatever needed to be done. Now im there 42x per year at a higher price than they were and im getting better at estimating what will be needed as far as how many times each type of plant will need to be trimmed per year, they are trimmed often enough so that the rake rarely leaves the truck. The ones I come across that dont want trimming usually dont want the 42 weeks of service so I am losing income on mowing as well as the money lost by not trimming etc because they only want it cut about 32 times a year so I avoid anything that isnt full service.
  9. MP350

    MP350 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 185

    I offer everything but spraying, most of the lawns that I maintain the bushes I got because their LCO didn't do bushes, and during the summer months I trim the bushes every week, no raking winter months once every 5-6 weeks.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    The frequent trimming to avoid raking sounds like a great idea. A quick touch up frequently vs. a big pruning infrequently. I don't know about weekly, but every other week or so might not be a bad way to hit it.

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