New Startup ???

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by theraceshop, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. theraceshop

    theraceshop LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Well I have been along time lurker here and I just spent allot of time reading post about start ups. Why is there so much negativity here? I too am looking for advice and encouragement on going on my own but I am really afraid to ask for suggestions here on many different things for fear to be flamed. My background is I have been working for family in the lawn-care business for the past 2 years. I lost my job and did not want my government handout. The family owner is not the smartest bulb on the tree "can't read at all I do it for him" and tends to yell to make himself feel better. Well my question is should I start my own in today's economy? How big or small should I be for a one man show? What is your max size lawn for push mowing with 21"? When should you get a 48"? I would also like to hear more about pricing your work and what you get for different types of work "lawn cuts, mulch, flower beds, etc.....)? Please don't take some of my comments wrong we all was new sometime.
  2. smallstripesnc

    smallstripesnc LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 717

    Welcome to the forums! As far as starting up here's my story for you.

    I'm 21 years old, married with almost two year old twins. I had plans to go into the US Army and had a ship date for October 2011. From the time I signed the papers to the time I was going to ship I was doing lawn care. I had a yard machine's by MTD push mower (not self propelled) and a weed eater brand line trimmer. I started posting on craigslist just trying to make extra money before I shipped out and well the calls came! So many that I had to turn down a ton of work because I could only handle 5-6 properties per day.

    Things with the Army did not work out and my contract got cancelled. Now I'm starting a legit lawn care business. I already have a website and I'm now working on getting clients for spring. I had a 48" walk behind and well it was too big for a lot of the tiny Charlotte properties and ended up using my Toro 22" recycler more than anything. I plan on purchasing the Toro timemaster 30 for my main mower (I KNOW I will get flamed for that on here) but hey with regular maintenance and all the mower will be fine and I like the personal pace system. The main reason I really like the unit is because its very light weight (132lbs) and I'm pulling my 4X6 trailer with a 1983 turbo charged BMW 320I (my third child car haha) so I needed something very light weight and even a 36" walk behind would weight much more than 132lbs.

    I have since gotten a back pack blower and upgraded to a Echo SRM-225 line trimmer.

    Just remember since the economy sucks people have to work more hours and don't have time to take care of their lawn. This is where we come in!
  3. ralph02813

    ralph02813 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Charlestown, RI
    Messages: 1,041

    I think the saying is brightest bulb in the marquee!!! :cool2: Just kidding.

    I am fairly new to this site as well, and I would suggest to you that there are tons of guys who will go to great lengths to give you as much help as possible. I have aske several questions and have gotten great answers, some even with more questions for me which all in all helped me to arrive at my own answer - that is the one that fits me.

    One of the things that I found important, is to remember that this is not the only web site in the world. So, if you are looking for information concerning say what is the maximum size lawn for a 21". The correct answer would be it depends.
    It depends on how much money you have.
    It depends on the average size of your customers property.
    It depends on how easy it is to access the property you have to cut does it have small gates or steep and weird inclines.
    It depends, do you have a truck, and or a trailer.
    It depends on what your local dealers carry.
    It depends on what your relationship with your local dealer is or could be.

    Your second question on the 48 pretty much has the same answers.

    Only you can figure it out. I starte with a old 21 snapper 1982 or 83 vintage,it died, I bought a 22 toro non commercial machine (huge difference between a commercial and residential mower), them bought a ferris 21 commercial mower, in my opinion the deck on the 21 is just to light (14 guage) to be considerd a commercial mower in southern new englad where you have real heavy damp growth in the spring. This year, after 2 years of not listening to my dealer I finally bought a ferris 36 hydo. I love it, and my dealer has been great my ferris is in the shop for a winter spa treatment now.
    Bigger is not always better, there are lots of folks here that spend some time developing a cutting strategy for each property, other just attack the property. You reallly have to look at what is it about a certain size machine that makes you better at doing your job. Better is defined as does the nicest job (with your guidiances) and really maximizes the best use of your time - time is money.

    So, that is a long winded way of asking you, since you have been doing this for two years, what did you use working for the other operation, what was good, what was bad. Good luck! I would be more than happy to help you out.
  4. mowing4rlife

    mowing4rlife LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    The economy maybe be bad, but it also depends how your city and state ecomomy is. I would say to go ahead and try it for a season. Start small and work your way up as you get more accounts.

    The max yard you can mow with a 21" mower is really up to you. I would personally mow anything over half an acre. Set up a schedule of jobs at a timely manner to be able to provide the best service you can.You could try to get a 32" or 36" walk behind with a sulky and you can mow up to an acre til you can save up money to purchase a zero turn.

    The best way to get your name out there these days is to use all free sources of advertisment on the internet. The internet + word of mouth will help you become very succeful. Ninety-eight percent of the work i have recieved off the internet and it has been free.

    Check this thread on lawnsite i posted to show you what i mean:

    One easy way to price your mowing jobs is based on how long you think it will take you to do the lawn X $1 per minute.

    For Example: If i think a job is going to take me 45 min to do the mowing job, then i am going to charge $45-$55.I may even charge more, but i won't do it for less. After you do a few mowing jobs, you'll get the hang of it. Try it and let me know how it goes for you.
  5. theraceshop

    theraceshop LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Wow! What great responses.

    I think the saying is brightest bulb in the marquee!!! Still have the holiday in me. I try not to dog the B-I-L but I look at the money he is getting with my labor only and I wonder if I can make it out there.

    Well I do have 3 maybe 4 lawns I can get under contract for weekly cuts for the right price if I figure that out. All are in well to do neighborhoods. All are Dr's who my wife work for. Most will lead to more word of mouth customers" I hope!" Most properties are >or=.5 with flowerbeds and most have gated pool areas and small to medium hills. All will be full service - Spring & fall clean ups, flower bed upkeep, weekly mow&blow. Also other work if I want to go there (handy man type).

    I worked with 48" walk behinds and messed with 52" Turf Tiger when BIL was not working. So I guess I should find a good used 36"-48" Anybody in New England have one that they would sell to a brother who is trying to start out??????

    Mowing4life - I like your thought for pricing it's not rocket science and I think it simple. I will use it. Also your online ads on Craigslist did you get alot of good calls? I thought it would be more of a hassle with cheap none payers. Never thought about it also how often do you list and what area on it do you post?
  6. mowing4rlife

    mowing4rlife LawnSite Member
    Messages: 241

    I started back in May 2010 and i had no way of know exactly how to get started like you. When i first started i took alot of BS jobs just to get the experience and know how til i got a good techinic down. My greatest growth in accounts has been off craiglist. I post my ads at the bottom of the page under services>farm+graden. All ads i run are made by all the options i make up on and (includes photos, graphics,text i put together on those site and then trasfer html code to craiglist listing manager). To be honest it does give you cheap people, but eventually starts giving you good customer over time. I would say it a good free risk to take to try it out. Right now that its the off season you could start by running a couple of ad to get some work set up before the growing season starts. I have already got phone calls on giving quotes and had one mowing job yesterday(This job didn't get the last mow of the season last year, so it was a free give away from who ever didn't show up, thank you- i say to that company).
  7. JCResources

    JCResources LawnSite Member
    Messages: 109

    If you already have potential work lined up by all means go on your own. Will this potentially cause problems with the family member you have been working for? Maybe you don't care. The other thing is it'll be hard to replace your job income the first or even second year out. Work this with a part time job. I work a full time job that is primarily afternoons/evenings, Tuesday through Sat. Mornings and all day Monday I can service properties. Its all about using what you have to work with in time and money.

    A person can get lots of work done with a 21, trimmer, blower and small pickup with little investment. Put money away for equipment, only upgrade when you are completely maxed out with the equipment you do have.

    My brother and I mowed 25 lawns in two days with two 21" snappers when I came home from college on the weekends. The next year we upgraded to a 36" Bunton wb and serviced 40+ accounts a week. That was the mid 90s, now I'm starting over. This was my first year back out and I have a hand full of accounts. My current approach to equipment is to buy "mispriced assets" at auction or anywhere else, fix them up and put in service. Just what works for me.

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