My first thread, and full of ?'s please help :)

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by jhmohio, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. jhmohio

    jhmohio LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Okay so this is my frist thread. And it's going to be rather lenghty, hopefully weed out any nonsense answers. My goal is to obtain information from people who do-do this every day for the sake of paying the bills and feeding their family. I have a series of questions that pertain to this industry, and hopefully I can collect a "average" in a sense of what people beleive is the right way to do things. Whats happend is this: I've done this for quite some time, years part time on the side, for very few people. But every season, I keep the same people and have never expanded, and continue to have people to ask me to do theirs. This isn't just due to the fact i'm generally a very busy person with my current occupation of being a corrections officer. But to make this long story short, i'm weighing heavy on the side of doing this fulltime next season. I'm trying to put things together in the most legit way as possible. And so far have succeeded in doing so.

    Here is a list of things i've done so far.

    1. EIN
    2. DNB Number
    3. business checking account
    4. checked with cpa
    5. getting llc forms completed as we speak
    6. have a counsler through score to obtain financing (which is my main focus on this thread)
    7. have a rough business plan drafted for bank use, but am trying to figure out if it's better if i do it, or pay to have a pro do one for me?
    8. know where most of the commerical accounts are, and am aware that apartment complex bids are over, but a lot remain for the begining of the year, like the feb. month.
    9. have estimate and proposal forms, contracts and other forms such as invoices, and receipt forms.
    10. business cards
    11. drafts for advertising, newspaper, local cable channel, and radio, and need to chekc on billboard on sr. 32

    i'm a, i guess, a somewhat intelligent person. The majority of my family is business owners. And I feel, and have felt for quite some time that i've always wanted to be my own boss. I don't have a fear of whats to come, and I have a clear path ahead of me, and know there are stumbling blocks down the way, but i'm strong and willing to figure out how to get past those.

    My questions are as follows, and any advice would be so greatly appreciated, that you probally wouldn't understand how helpful this truly is :)

    1. What equipment is advised for someone such as myself starting out, with one employee.

    2. What common mistakes are made when just starting that are easy to avoid?

    3. What is a common formula for bidding on commerical accounts? Any advice on this would be greatly accepted, no matter how simple or complex the formula is.

    4. What other services besides lawn care are easily done that someone such as myself could perform possibly in the second year of business?

    5. Here's the last question i'm gonna ask for now, whats happend is my personal credit has suffered a huge amount over the last 5 years. I'm a 26 year old single dad with custody of his son. I have my son every day all day!!! My personal credit suffered due to attorney bills, doctors bills, P.I. bills and things of that nature. Now i'll make it clear now, that it was money well spent and i'd never change that. But life continued on with bills, some that are unpaid, okay A LOT that are unpaid.

    Wahts your suggestion should I file BK in jan of 08??
    And if i do or don't, how can i obtain financing for the stuff I need such as equpiment and a truck and all that? I really need help in this area. Because to be honest with you, I don't have time to try and build up, I know what I can do, it's just a matter of getting there, and having the intitial $$$ to start it up.
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    1. No employees for at least 2 years.
    2. Read through this thread:
    3. No commercial accounts for a good 5 years.
    5. I don't care why and neither does the bank, all new businesses and more than a few established ones the rules are simple:
    > Cash basis, either you can afford it, or you can't.
    A budget helps, as does cost of living reductions.
    You got to stay on top of things, more so at first but even later, otherwise it goes down hill and fast.

    So what's the questions all for, what's this all about again?
  3. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    I will pm you my answers to all your questions, I have a lot of years doing this and some info i learned over time is valuble I dont spue it all over an open forum but in the mean time Is it reasonable to assume, that if you kept your current job you could get control of your debt.? or working both jobs, and getting control? I if so how long? To give you meaningful answers I need this answered because my answers for all your other questions will be defined by this answer. also give me your inventory of current tools on hand right now
  4. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

    I have seen you post this in other threads and I am curious of what your definition of a commercial account is
  5. supercuts

    supercuts LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,814

    with the amount of variables you have its hard to grasp. i agree with topsites, you really need to be on a cash basis in your situation. depending on the size of lawns, i highly reccomend a 60 ZTR. they are highly efficent and fit in many places i never thought possible. again, if you cant afford it, use what you have now, im assuming a WB? dont hire until you need to. dont plan on it now. wait until you are absolutly too busy.

    common mistakes are over investing, your staring out, dont go out and spend $20 on brand new equip with 10 lawns. if you dont have a push mower, and dont need one for your 10 lawns, dont buy one for a new 11th lawn. turn it down. there is enough work out there. on the flip side, if 9 of 10 lawns need it, you should already have it. once you grow you can take on smaller equip to fill in the gaps.

    as far as number 5, id talk to your cpa, he will see and fully understand your finacial situation. the best advice will come from him.

    i dont know how long youve been in corrections, but at 26 you most like dont hvae too long in. landscaping is very profitable, i spent 7 years in 2 PD's and was fed up with politics, egos, weekends, nights and holidays, and i bailed. one of the hardest descions. it was very scary wondering if i could make it on my own. i had contemplated it for years. other than loving the work, i would never go back. there are obsticles and it may not be easy at first, but well worth it. the only real drawback is vacation/sick time. you have none. cant leave because you have weekly obligations. gotta work sick when solo. it pays off though. you can take a day off for any reason and be home for dinner every night.

    good luck Mark
  6. Stillwater

    Stillwater LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,889

  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Afaik the only two kinds there are is commercial, and residential.
    So most any account that is not residential, such as a business.

    Brother, you are twice as likely to get took by a business in this world, that's why I keep saying it, you really want more than a few years behind you before dealing with these, commercial accounts are a bit rough, more so if it's association-operated, omg...
    If you have the experience then hopefully you see it coming and can salvage the worst of it, but for a new business a commercial account is more than likely the fastest way back out of business.

    Most are lowest bidder, it is for a large Lco, a great way to keep several employees occupied (read: not much profit if any).
    It's definitely not for a solo or 2-3 man operation, I doubt it, highly.
  8. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

  9. jhmohio

    jhmohio LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Okay so perhaps it was a little vague after rereading the entire post. But it's pretty much what I wanted to put, without some details you may need to do.

    To answer one person yes my services have always been mowing, trimming, e.t.c. On a couple very rare occassions I did some decortive landscaping and charged a flat hourly rate.

    In my area there is no real clear cut competitor, there is exactly what I am and thats people who do it part time, with part time equipment. There is landscapers, but nearly everyone of them stick to just that, and don't even dabble in the idea of mowing. Seriously...........i've researched everyone in my county and 2 other surrounding counties, part of my business plan. In the 3 counties i've researched, there's only 2 companys that I could reallllllllly consider heavy competition.

    In terms of clientel, I could very easily start out the gate with more than I could handle. This is due to having had a business before, and a business that went very well, it just so happened I couldn't turn down the insurance where I work now, so I dropped it and started doing the corrections thing. And to whoever that was that said it made some good people angry, HAHAHA yes it's true, a lot of people take this job home with them.

    I beleive i'm getting overlooked here in terms of my ability to make a profit. I"m not going to underprice anything, i'm not interested in this to be the cheapest person around. Gross, gross, gross, equals more net net net. And I don't intend on making my gross by having a million jobs that barely pay costs. When I could have less than half of that and still make just as much or more than that. My dad has owned his own business for over 20 years, and has successfully branched off into another operation.

    I suppose the most important question is, does anyone have any ideas about financing. I'm sure if worst came to worst I could get the money off my dad, though I certainly hate to do that, for i've not asked my dad for money since high school. And it's not like i'm asking for a couple hundred bucks or something.

    To all those who continue to think I need my pushmows and one rider due to my "newbie syndrome" your input is well evaluted, and very appreciated. However, it is not the advice I seek. I'm very capable of producing estimates that produce profit. Regardless of wether they are residential or commericial.
    Matter fact one of my part time accounts is a commerical, though it's only one, it's one that I do for $200 a week, that takes me 2 hours and 20-40 minutes to complete.

    I'm not asking for $400,000 loan. I'm seeking advice as how to get a loan on personal credit that isn't good. Is it possible to just go off the small amount of business credit I have? I'm not seeking all new equipment either, i'm looking for the best value in which I can buy, with the best quality within my budget.

    I'm sure theres still stuff i've left unanswered but I hope this helps a little.
  10. jhmohio

    jhmohio LawnSite Member
    Messages: 14

    Also wanted to add, that I also have 3 definite commerical accounts if I continue on with my venture. I would have the schwans depot, a car dealership (the one i've had over the years), and another car dealership.

    And over the years i've turned down work, that i'm very confident that I could have since i'd be doing this fulltime. In terms of accounts, with what I already have and with a projection of what my bidding would do, along with advertising. I beleive I could start out the gate with 60 accts or more, this not being a far fetched thing.

    For all of you that have assisted so far, I appreciate your advice, and it's all kindly appreciated :)

Share This Page