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Need some expert advice

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by spat, Mar 5, 2003.


    LANDGUARD LawnSite Member
    Messages: 73


    I think you are on the right track with a Stander. If I'm not mistaken you stated that this place is brand new, so that tells me that the sod is still very rough. As the year goes on the sod will level out and the mowing will get easier. Try to sell the residents some sand to level the areas now instead of letting it settle. The pricing is what it is for now but can be adjusted for the rest of the accounts you quote. If there are a lot of funky angles maybe you can get some customers to extend some beds together to get them to flowwwww.

    Best of Luck
  2. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912


    We serviced 127 today (30 Man Hours we were humping to get tommarrow off with next week my foremen's Vacation time before Summer) all this with (2) 42" Mulch Deck Walkers (mow time was 13 hours that bout 5 min per yard).... fronts & sides .... backs are extra (we do 70 of the backs .... most are open about 20 with gates) .....that comes to about 14 minutes per yard

    We really average about 35 Hours 6 months of the year .... 4 of the hot summer months take bout 50-55 Hours ... other 2 are bout 40-45 .... BUT when we first started ... the first time was all most 70 hours .... so Yes a learning curve does come in

    Ssoooo in other words if it takes 20-30 NOW .... it's gonna be alot more come June

    The price per yard would kill most here .... lowball NO ... but to get the whole HOA the price had to be "competive" .... with Common Grounds n Extras it's a fat account .... but we have the proper equip

    An operation with 36" WB could NOT compete with my price .... unless they just wanted to mow for Free .... if your serious about volume mowing down here you need a Walker for the tight bed ridden yards that are everywhere down here ....n a fat 60" for the larger yards & common areas or retention ponds

    I can't say for the Stander ... as I do see em around .yet have not run one ... I just am spoiled on a sit down our front deck mower to reduce trimming
  3. Flex-Deck

    Flex-Deck LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,845

    Yes, there is the Flex-Deck - You do not have to go between stuff to mow between stuff - It makes a 36" WB into a 54" WB that will mow between 24" stuff[​IMG]

    36x-between stones-.jpg
  4. nelbuts

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

    If all you are going to do is mow, trim, and blow then yes you may be a little cheap but you should be able to put a ZTR on that many yards and knock them out. Look at it this way, four people cand do that place in 4-5 hours. If you have a 100 and they are paying you $5000 a month then you would be making $78 per hour. Labor in your area with all related cost involved would be about $15 per hour. Then equip. cost and such and you could make a good little profit. Just make sure that you organize to make the most of your labor.
  5. ToG

    ToG LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    hey, any of you florida guys work in any of the follwing??

    falcons trace


    victoria park

    st. johns

    james island

    just wondering, i helped irrigate, sod, and landscape tons of those homes.
  6. spat

    spat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    OK...today I did 8 more today. With an average time of 18 min. With a belt walk-behind. I also jot a chance to demo a 44 toro z on site. Did that one in 17 min, it was just a bit to wide for the small lawn. So I think with the wright stander 36 I would be in the 12 to 13 min range. That would be $600.00 per year, per yard! I bid at 14.28 per cut (42 times a year). With the 13 min time I can do 30 in a day (little over 8 hours).

    In conclusion
    30 cuts a day for 5 days 150 total
    Now I bid 50 bucks a month! for 42 cuts!
    so I will have a light winter. and 7500 a month comming in every month! thats 90k a year!

    I know I am new at this. 2nd week!
    but it looks like when I get the hang of this These$50 jobs will be making 60-65 an hour!
  7. spat

    spat LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    Oh and to a few of you...I would like to thank you for helping me with my mistake! I dont think I made a mistake, I feel I bid properly, I just can mow worth **** and I have about 6 hours of trimming time under my belt (LIFETIME EXPERIENCE). So when I get as good as you! I will be making 65-70 an hour on those UNDER BID jobs. Lighten up..I just wanted help...not a bashing.

    And with 2 weeks into this I have 19 annual contracts with 15 pending. And 60 or 70 of those $50 houses if I want them!
  8. "Need some epert advice" ???

    How can you say you only have about 6 hours of running a trimmer and think you bid on these properties correctly? You got some straight advice from professionals and turned your nose up at it. So why even ask?

    I’m holding back what I want to say (and what I bet many others want to say). Think about it, what’s the most logical reason you got that many accounts in two days when you're so new? I hope you get what you deserve. Sure sounds like it.
  9. TaussigLawnCare

    TaussigLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 206

    okay EVERYONE low balled it their first year or two it happens once you get your customer list up and you eat your losses and build on it and next year raise them up some and drop your lowest paying once and build on it. It takes time to become a strong business and in the begining everyone makes mistakes. those are some small yards I bet if you got them all in a row you could pull some fast work. I like my 36 in toro and it does my small jobs great and the price was right.
  10. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    I would suspect that if you got that much business that fast (flocking out of homes to flag you down!) you may not be charging the market rate.

    Maybe you can figure a way to make it pay good, some of the number crunching gets difficult unless one has seen the properties in person, but if I really did make a big mistake on pricing I would just call or write everyone and frankly let them know I was inexperienced in pricing and that I just underbid. I don't recall if you said you had contracts signed, but if not, you DID mow their lawns for the price you said you would the first time. Less than $15 to have your lawn mowed is really cheap, no matter how small. But if you're honest with them, many should keep you on. I can't imagine someone balking if you asked another $3 or so per cut, but then I hear they have some really tight retirees in Florida.

    I do some cluster home back yards only with lawns about the size of my bedroom, and have had no problems getting my minimum, $22, and they don't have the obstacles and tight spots you mentioned(gates, but no obstacles). I can unload, mow, trim, edge, blow and reload and be gone in 12 minutes if mulching. I live in a big metro area and drive time matters more, and doing several at a time saves time, of course, but load/unload time for me isn't more than about a minute a lawn, so if I mow in 12 minutes, and average 5 minutes drive time, I made $22 in 17 minutes.

    Keep in mind that you need rest, and a great way to get it as a solo operator is drive time. Of course doing 4 or 5 of these tiny lawns at a time is easy, but once it's 2-3 hours at a time on site, you really need to factor in rest time into the bid.

    Let me add this too: block pricing is a double edged sword. Easy come, easy go. Make someone mad, get a jerk customer with influence and a big mouth, or just get underbid and you can loose em all real quick too. Our market is more spread out and doesn't have as many small lawns and people are not into buying services as a block here, so it may not be the same situation, but my policy has been to give only modest discounts, if any, for neighbors, because if some drop out, the rest will not put up with you charging them more. If a lawn costs out at $35, and I do the neighbor's too...I price it at $35 unless I get the feeling they will call someone else up and want a price for both lawns. Then I might do both for $30 each (halving what I charge for drive time between the two customers) This way doing multiple lawns makes ME more money and benefits me, not saves them money and benefits THEM. Not a hard and fast rule, but I try to not leave money on the table.

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