New Lawn Care Business

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by TheBryGuy, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. TheBryGuy

    TheBryGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Hello everyone!

    I've been watching the forums for a few weeks now and I have to say, this place is great for information! A friend and I are talking about starting up a lawn care business in Texas next spring and I had a few questions for you guys.

    1. We have been looking into mowers and are thinking about starting with a 48-52" exmark or scag and a 48" walkbehind. My question is, does this sound about the right size to be able to accomplish a mix of jobs, both large and small? We don't want to put ourselves in a situation to where we are stuck doing one or the other (by the way, we are focusing on residential properties).

    2. If we decided to take on bigger properties (out in the hill country there are 5-10 acre lots that we might could snag) would it be worth getting a 60" mower or would we be better off going with a tractor and a brush hog attachment? The guy we talked to at the mower place said that it's not pretty when a commercial mower hits rocks and I would be afraid that the hillcountry would have plenty of those to offer up.

    3. Seeing as the Austin area (in the country) has a lot of dirt and sand the salesmen we talked to said that our mower life would be shorter than someplace in the north that is much greener. Having said that, what is your personal experience when it comes mower life in the central Texas area?

    4. Finally, the salesmen brought up the idea of leasing equipment (mowers) in the first year or so of business so we don't have to worry about replacing equipment. What do you guys think about a lease type situation? Would it be worth it or should we sink the money and invest in our own equipment?

    Thanks ahead of time for all the help guys and I apologize if these questions are common sense type answers.
  2. SIWEL

    SIWEL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 509

    If this is what you WANT to do and you are going to be happy doing it i would go for it. Personally i like Scag better than Exmark, but that is just me. I would buy one 52" and one 48" both with sulky's. if you can afford it ZTR's get a lot more done int he same amount of time. also i would try and buy used equipment in your area to save a little bit. you want to avoid going into debt the minute you start up. this means i would NOT lease the equipment. brush hogs do not give you a clean cut, they are a rough cut mower. if you do hit a blade with a commercial mower you will probably bend the blade.
  3. A-Land

    A-Land LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 856

    Start slow. Make sure you have a truck, trailer, insurance, license, etc lined up. Even if you start with a $100 home cheapo mower you need those things. Look for used machines in your area, although I would NOT go with a lease on equipment. See if your dealer knows of any LCOs that are looking to unload equipment, generally they know what kind of maintenance/problems the machine has gone through. Otherwise, try craigslist. Look for a first mower, probably a belt drive, 48-52 inch. Brand isn't that important, it depends on what you like and who has the best dealer support in your area. Invest in NEW handhelds, they can have too many problems to buy used IMHO. Go for the good ones because they are not that expensive compared to mowers, trucks, etc.... Start there and see how you like it. Opportunities will present themselves to you and let that dictate the direction that you want to go. If you don't like the biz, sell out as you haven't really invested that much.

    As far as what the salesman told you about mower life..... It seems to be a sales ploy. If you keep the air filter clean and keep the machine free of rust (Fluid Film is good for this) I'm not sure what effect your soil would have on the machine. It sort of fits with his request for you to lease, so I wouldn't really believe it. There are a lot of ways to shorten mower life other than the kind of soil you have. On the whole, soil is not really going to change much I would believe..... The only case that could be made would be the air filter because of the dust and sand. Keep it clean and that's no problem.
  4. TheBryGuy

    TheBryGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Great, thanks for the advice guys. This is very helpful.
  5. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Not to be a kill joy or anything but are you reading the threads of late? Experienced people with years of experience are fleeing the industry. Its not because they are stupid or wimps its because the business has beat them down.

    I would be doing something different myself if I wasn't so invested in my company and I haven't been in the field for years. So I don't even have to deal with the physical issues.

    Save yourself the grief try something else.

    BTW I cut my first yard in 1968
  6. A-Land

    A-Land LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 856

    There is still plenty of money to be made. You aren't going to become a millionaire as a solo op, but you can still do pretty well. Especially for a lot of young guys, they can be making really good money out working while their friends are in college, collecting student debts, etc....

    To each his own..... but don't tell me there is no success in the business.
  7. TheBryGuy

    TheBryGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    I think there is a great deal of business in the Austin area and it is a growing industry due to the fact that it is one of the fastest growing cities in the States. I agree that you can make decent money as a one man operation but our plan is to continue to invest in the company and grow it, branching into other areas. I realize this takes time and work and years of putting your back into it. We don't mind, we are looking forward to it.
  8. A-Land

    A-Land LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 856

    You just described how to build a successful company. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress. PS - Fall is a good time to look into equipment because it's the end of the year and people (and dealers) are looking to get rid of it before the winter. The best deals are often in fall!
  9. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    After dabbling in mowing last year a bit, I went legit this year, got a pesticide certification, 100% legal, and most imprtantly, had a business plan.

    The business plan dictated what equipment I would need to buy and how to advertise. I wanted accounts ONLY in the LI surburban town I live in. I wanted only residentials, which have small plots, running from 2 to 4k of turf per house here. Lots of narrow backyard gates.

    I bought a Quick 32", use my old homeowner Sears 21" as a backup, got a Husky (BlueBird) power rake, a weed whacker, stick edger, Husky (Redmax 7001) blower, several sprayers from backpacks to 2 gallon hand helds, and a dual sided 36" hedge trimmer (Husky). Based on my target client customer base, with the narrow gates, my equipment buying decisions became much easier to make.

    Then, to keep the route tight, I only used door hangers so I would not get calls from outside my targeted territory. I also used a church bulletin ad. This got me about 25 customers total. Few are mow and blows only, most are for ferts, pesticides AND mowing. By far, I make MUCH more profit doing applications, but in order to get the apps, I have to mow most of them. I got lots of plant and garden installs, some decorative rock intsalls, about 10 mulching jobs, plenty of annual flowering plant flat plantings, 4 lawn renovations and as a solo, have been doing 12 hour days for two and a half months while working for Scotts (the fert company, retail side, NOT the fert and squirt operatation) on weekends as a part time gig to supplement the new biz as I tried to get it off the ground.

    I am very happy I got into this biz, but feel the reason it has worked out so well is because I had a good biz plan that kept me focused on my plan and my goals. Before I start next year, I will replace my 10 year old (but looks decent) Chevy S-10 long bed and small open trailer with a new F150 2wd and a 12' enclosed trailer.

    So, don't get too discouraged by some who would tell you to go find something else to do. If all you want to do is mow.... then i would agree that this biz isnt the best choice, but if you can learn to manage an entire property, learn how to design a garden, know how to diagnose and treat turf and ornamental plant problems.... you will use your brain as much as your brawn, and I find the mix great, keeping this 53 year old newbie lean and mean!

    Think out your business plan and follow it to the letter. Make any adjustments that you might have to along the way, but if it's a good biz plan to start with, little finnagling will be needed. Good luck... and don't let the naysayers get you down!
  10. TheBryGuy

    TheBryGuy LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Boston, thanks for the tip, I will definantly start looking for used equipment this fall. I didn't even think about that aspect.

    Whitey, great advice!! Thank you! I'm actually glad we are begining to think through the business now for the simple reason that it will allow us to formulate a business plan that will work and isn't a spur of the moment type document. Now...following the business plan we set forth may be a different story :rolleyes:

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