My first year...

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by BTLS, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. BTLS

    BTLS LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 109

    Hello to all,

    I've been reading and gleaning information from this site throughout my first year in the business. Invaluable. I didn't really want to post until I had that first year under my belt. So, this is my #1 post. Just wanted to introduce myself and give a brief salute to my first year. I'll try to keep it short.
    Started in a POS van with a weedeater brand weed eater and blower and a (what I thought) good mower from Home Depot, a rake and a box of garbage bags. Yes, I was an idiot, but I had to start somewhere.
    I now have the same POS van plus a radiator leak, a nice 6 X 10 trailer, echo gear and a new 32 in Scag walk-behind (which I am crazy about but it keeps busting my knuckles.)
    Haaaaard work...lost 30 pounds and now weigh in at 160...pretty lean if I do say so myself. Still ugly though.
    11 things I learned this year (abbreviated version):
    1. Weedeater brand and box-store gear won't work...'nuff said. Unless one month of use is all you are looking for.
    2. Don't hit loose steel washers with your trimmer unless you want it to fly up and hit and stick into your forehead.
    3. Wasps will sting you even if you ignore them.
    4. Don't unload your mower from your single axle trailer unless it's attached to your POS van. Unless you like the whole "see saw" effect it produces.
    5. The bigger the mower, the bigger the damage to property/turf.
    6. When your blower tube pops off the blower unit, and the change in noise causes you to jump and run for cover like a girl, anyone watching will laugh hysterically at you, especially if it's a 6 man crew from an established lawn service competitor.
    7. Nobody, outside your immediate family, will respect you until you are somewhat successful...for the most part. You will have to eat a lot of pride when you start doing this- at first. It took me awhile to get used to being laughed at by the established hyspanic crews here. With my new gear (what I call "street cred", I don't see laughing anymore.
    8. Don't do "freelance" work for real estate agents unless they pay you up front. Unless you like working for free and getting hit in the head by washers.
    9. If a lawn has grass over a foot and a half tall, and your mower is a 3 hp murray, don't even consider it. Just let it go. It's not worth the overinflated $55.00 quote you felt guilty about giving the old fellow the first month you were in business.
    10. Get your tax ID #...being threatened with $500 per day fine ruins your day and outlook on life. It doesn't matter that half (or more) the crews out there are operating illegally. You're the one that will get busted. Get insurance...not because you'll need or use it, but because it makes you feel good and it looks good on your flyers and business cards (I actually don't have it on my business cards but it sounded better that way.)
    11. I've been a Marine, a cop and a nurse, in that order. Made good money and made a difference here and there. I have never felt as good as I do, doing this job. I go out, get my stuff done, network here and there, advertise here and there and that's it. Off every other week, with pay (balanced billing), during the all when I need to get things done...listen to the radio all day..."cruise around" all day...I'm serious...this is a fantastic career for me. I'm in the best shape of my life...detox thanks to Houston heat every day...make good money and the future looks pretty good. And trust me, I'm not a polly anna. For once I'm staying positive and listening to all the advice and suggestions I'm getting from those who have "been there and done that." It all works. Especially the business kit Sean puts out. I'm implementing a lot of it as we speak. I'm not worried about getting enough volume. My future concern is going to be whether or not to get a crew or helpers and all the implications that entails. Sorry this was so long but hey- I did wait a whole year to post. Regards to all- Ben
  2. leaflandscape

    leaflandscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    That's funny. I could've told you about the washers with no real mowing experience.
  3. BTLS

    BTLS LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 109

    I hear you. I actually didn't see it until I pulled it out of my forehead. I now wear a baseballl cap pulled low and safety glasses. I always learn the hard way.
  4. Trinity Lawn Care  LLC

    Trinity Lawn Care LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 946

    Welcome Ben. How many accounts are you working with? Is this going to be your fulltime gig? Good luck in your second year. Our second year was crazy, but it panned out to be a pretty prodctive year for us.

    WALKER LANDSCAPE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    Welcome to LS Ben good to hear everything is going well for you. Funny reading brings back some memories Good luck this year.
  6. sikagrass

    sikagrass LawnSite Member
    Messages: 238

    Welcome to the site and thanks for the humour. I dont post during the season but I read it everyday in the morning. Could have saved a lot of money on bad equipment choices if I was reading it back when I started.Sounds like you are doing well with the learning curve and are on your way to a good 2nd season.
  7. BTLS

    BTLS LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 109

    Thanks for the welcome. I started in May 06 and have 25 accounts to date. It takes me 3 days now to get them done. So, compared to other jobs I've had in the past, the money is comparable. I had a boat load of "weekly pay" type clients at first but after a few months, I dropped them and now only take annual clients and I do mandatory balanced billing. I also got a bid request from a neighborhood- and some inside info that will probably allow me to secure the contract. I have to get the bid out by the 29th of this month. It should pay 3k per month, which is excellent, but there are other pros and cons I have to consider. I'll need a helper which will immediately take the business in a whole new direction. Lots of research ahead.
  8. BTLS

    BTLS LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 109

    Also- Trinity- yes, I'm doing this on a full time basis. I'm not too dumb though, I'll retain my nursing license in case something terrible goes wrong. I'm still a rookie but I love lawn service. I have tons of competition here in the Houston area and I'm determined to carve out a niche and grow to a certain level. The general pattern I have seen so far in my area is this: Get 30-50 clients and that's've peaked out. In fact, one of my top sources of information and guidance in this business did just that and he's as happy as he can be. But he said, "You know, in another 10 years, I'll be too old to do this anymore. I don't know if I can survive then." So, I'm planning on growing enough to be able to run the business without HAVING to physically do all the work. It's a goal. We'll see it if works out. SIKAGRASS- amen...My first, and at the time only, self-propelled 21 in mower's self-propelled function broke during my first month. I had to push that freaking think for 3 days before I could replace it. Holy crap that was hard. Thought I was going to die. Never again man, never again.
  9. ribbie78

    ribbie78 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 150

    Great post BTLS. It's funny how we try so many careers and come back to mowing with a big smile. It helps you enjoy it more once you've experienced the so-called-real-world and its cookie-cutter style.

    I'm starting business for myself this year after taking 6 years off of lawncare to teach. I'm still teaching for my main income; but lawncare is the therapy :dizzy: and the exercise! :walking:

    Good luck on your next season!
  10. jaybow

    jaybow LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mi
    Messages: 1,089

    What type of 21 in push mower was it that broke in the first month.I will be buying one soon and dont want the same problem.I am also new this year.I bought a quick 36 samarai for my main mower to start but I will need a descent 21 in to.My mower I use around the house is about shot.For the 21 should I get self propelled or just a push model?Thanks and good luck 2007

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