New business in NC

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by smallstripesnc, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Hello everyone,

    This is my first post and I would like to introduce myself. I am 21 years old and have always loved mowing grass ever since I was little. I am married with almost two year old twins.

    I have cut for a few commercial company's and really enjoyed it. I had plans to go into the US Army but things didn't work out. Over the summer (when I was planning to go into the Army in October) I posted craigslist ads and had many lawns. I drive an older BMW and put a push mower, weed eater, and someone donated a blower to me all in the trunk. I had roughly 5-10 lawns weekly and turned down a lot of work because I wanted time with my family before I left for basic training.

    After I found out the Army wasn't going to happen I took a full time job delivering pizza and I found out really fast I wasn't making any money and I made much more mowing grass.

    Now its fall and I'm looking to start a real business. I no longer have the delivery driver job because I was loosing money on gas and I saved what I could and got a Toro self propelled 22' mower. I wanted a "commercial" push mower but they are hard to find. I went to STI and they claimed they had commercial toro's for like $299 and up. So I went and bought the Toro personal pace with blade stop 22' self propelled mower. So far I'm happy with it but I don't think its the commercial version like they claimed it was. Hopefully it'll last.

    I have a weed eater brand straight shaft weed eater (I know you guys are going to beat me up for that one) but it works but I KNOW I may need a new one soon since if you take off the back cover and feel for connecting rod movement and I believe the bearing is worn but I don't hear any noise when its operating. So I may eventually upgrade to a Shindaiwa IF I can find an older one for sale cheap or even an Echo.

    I have a homelite blower that was given to me. Its not that powerful but it gets the job done. I really want a backpack blower since it gets pretty tiring after a lot of blowing with it. Plus its leaf season and I know I'm going to be blowing a lot of leaves.

    My plan is to start small with the push mower and maybe one day work my way up to a walk behind. I know a lot of guys just jump right into the big mowers but most of the lawns around are small and can easily be done with a push mower. I am getting a hitch and a small trailer soon so I'm not putting everything in the trunk of my car. My goal is to get about 15-20 lawns a week.

    This is what I have so far.

    Small Stripes Lawn Care (Name is this because I always attempt to stripe and the stripes are small because of the push mower).

    *Flat rate pricing
    *No contracts (For now)

    Services offered:
    -General Cut (Including cut, edge, and blow)
    $25 1/2 acre or less
    $35 1/2 acre to 1 acre (I will not cut anything more than an acre)

    -Leaf removal:
    $35 1/2 acre or less ($40 if I dispose)
    $45 1/2 acre to 1 acre ($50 if I dispose)

    $40 1/2 acre or less
    $50 1/2 acre to 1 acre

    Seeding and fertilization:
    No pricing yet. Still trying to find best deal on seed and fertilizer.

    Pine needle/mulch application:
    No pricing yet. Still trying to find best deal on seed and fertilizer.

    Website is in progress.

    I'm sure you all have heard similar situations before but I would like help on pricing, marketing techniques (So far I have the idea of website, craigslist, run ad in paper, flyer distribution). Keep in mind I'm about 30 minutes outside of Charlotte in NC. I plan on servicing the Charlotte area.

    Also I would like to know what I am able to do during the winter months to stay busy. If its marketing, trying to improve my knowledge, etc...

    I do plan on registering my business name and all of that once I get started. I don't want to spend a ton of money on paying taxes and all yet until I know this business will work. I do want to get a pesticide license so I can spray weed killer and all down the road.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  2. lawnkingforever

    lawnkingforever LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,280

    I would off until you had more money. Unless you have another source of income I would go work for someone else and just do a few yards on the side. You are not really set up at this point to give yourself a legit chance of making decent coin. Also your leaf cleanup prices are way too low.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Your pricing is way to low. You need to reach out to some NC people here for guidance.

    Also the way you price lawns does not make sense. You do not do a 1/2 acre for the same money as a 1/4 acre.

    Then if you are doing a 1/2 acre for $25 you should be doing 1 acre for $50 not $35.

    Then what is the difference between doing two 1 acre lawns for $50 each but you won't do one 2 acre lawn for $100.

    Customer wants a quote measure his property to get the square footage. Multiply sf by .003.

    eample: 20,000 x .003 = $60 to do 1/2 acre.

    Now lawnsite members in NC will be able to tell you if .003 is to high or low of a multiplier for NC.
  4. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    That does make sense. Thats why i posted and asked for help.

    Ive been comparing my pricing on craigslist and people post all the time $25 per lawn. But i would like to be more than a craigslist lawn guy and actually get nice lawns.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Also your leaf clean up is to low. And many people do aerating at double triple the price of mowing.

    If you charge $35 to mow a lawn and it takes the same time to aerate then you have to charge the $35 labor + the rental.

    And, don't forget that even if you can aerate the lawn in one hour, you have to figure the time it takes to get the machine and the time it will take it to get back to the rental center. So the one hour you used the machine at $45 per hour winds up being 2 hours at $90 because it took a 1//2 hour to get the machine and another 1/2 hour to return the machine.

    So 45 + 90 = $135 charge to the customer.
  6. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    My question is how are these people offering to aerate, seed, and fertilize for $120?

    I've came up for a 10,000 SQ ft lawn to seed, aerate, and fertilize would be around $55 for a bag of seed for 10,000 SQ ft, $45 for fertilizer for 15,000 SQ ft, and thats $100 right there.

    Plus the charge for me to spread the seed and fertilizer and price to aerate. I just don't see these people charging $120 for it all. There has to be a catch.
  7. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    The difference is what you pay for materials. The contractor price instead of paying retail.

    I can get the 25lb bag of KBB for $96 that sells for $125.

    Thing is they can be selling it their cost which is losing money because the time and gas spent to go buy it.

    But they won't buy this seed they will buy the cheapest seed they can. And if if calls for using 3lbs per 1000 sf they will put down 1lb.

    Then they skimp on the fertilizer.

    And, when seeding or fert they won't criss cross so they get done quicker.

    Then they will not be thorough using the aerator so they get done as fast as they can.
  8. osmann_lawn

    osmann_lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

    A truck would be ideal for a mowing business.
    I wouldn't want a lawn mower leaking gas/oil in the trunk of my BMW.

    I would sell the BMW look on Craigslist for a cheap truck 2,000 - 3,000.

    The equipment is fine for just starting.
  9. Ijustwantausername

    Ijustwantausername LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,728

    @ smallstripesNC

    Here let me help you. First off, the guys on this forum know a whole lot more about this industry than you and I combined, so I would heed their advice. They are exactly right, your prices are too low. Since I know you are trying to grow your business, you are going to do things cheaper than the guy down the road, but don't sell yourself short.

    My average lawn is $45. With the exception of a few elderly people I have mowed for years. They are considerably cheaper, but I don't mind. If I were you, I would not charge less than that. No magic number or way to price, just experience for me.

    I could go all day about pricing so message me and I'll help you. I will tell you this, with those prices you should be the only lawn care Co. in Charlotte.

    Also Charlotte is FULL of millionaires and rich people, probably the most in any city in NC, which means money for you but picky to go with it. You are in an incredible market full of other Lco's so you will have to differentiate a TON to get rolling, but once you do it will be easy. I wouldn't even consider online marketing, companies like Barringer & Barringer are probably paying Google $25 dollars per click to be at the top, which is something most of us can't do. I know an LCO that is in Huntersville, one of the most baller golf course communities around, he just pulls up and his crew literally does half the neighborhood. That is what your focus should be, trying your best to mow for someone in a neighborhood, then usually it'll spread.

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