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New to the Lawn Care Biz w/Questions

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by sniggly, Mar 3, 2003.

  1. sniggly

    sniggly LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190

    Hi to All!
    My name is Chris (34yoa) and I am very close (within two months) to starting a lawn care biz here in Florida. I am currently working for an internet company and am being layed off because the company is relocating to California...."And I ainta goin!" If you were to ask, "Why lawn care?"....I would say:
    1.) Tired of corporations abusing my loyalty
    2.) Tired of working for people that abuse my knowledge and common sense
    3.) Love hard work
    4.) I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that I can make this work to benefit my family's quality of life.
    5.) I like being outside!

    First, I have been reading this forum for 4 days and have learned more about the business in those 4 days than I have learned from the last year of "thinking about it." Thanks to all that post.

    I have some questions and I would like to express in advance my most sincere THANK YOU to any that reply.

    I am buying my equipment with the severence check the company gives me (a budget of about 7000.00). I am going to buy a 36 inch WB (probably a Scag) and all the normal startup accessories (trimmer, blower, edger, 22" push, gas cans and a huge water cooler). 36 inch WB because a lot of yards here in jax have fenced in backsides that have only a 37 or 38 inch single access. Because of my incredibly experienced perspective on theft (hint hint) I am buying an enclosed 6X10 trailer (Pace or something like it). I realize some of these questions will be extremely detailed but that is me me me...down to the 1/1000th as they say.

    1.) Can I expect a 36WB and respectable accessories to service 7 residential lawns per work day with only me working? Use my property as a mean average for my DMA. My property is a half acre (10,000 sq/ft) and has a 1250 sq/ft house with privacy backyard fence, two ditches, two trees, and 1 driveway about 35 feet long and all is flat.

    2.) My business model is set up for $64 per man hour. Can anyone counter this? I am looking for anything that can substantiate something different.

    3.) Any suggestions on the 6X10 trailer. I fully expect to someday reach the point where I can buy a nice ZTR and service more yards on a daily basis.

    4.) I am concerned about those clients that are going to want me to cut shorter than I intend to cut....how do I handle these customer's?.....especially if I have a Scag that is not very easy to adjust.

    5.) Given the above listed equipment setup.....how much time would you need to service my yard (mow, trim, edge, blow and go)?

    I'll stop there. I don't want to wear out the good will of my future business brethren!

  2. HarryD

    HarryD LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,068

    Welcome sniggly. I see you have just registered and are eager for answers. not sure how long you have been reading the boards but the best thing to do is do a key word search. there are tons of threads with all your answers.

    I know nothing about mowing in florida so you will have to count on those guys for answers.

    But as for the trailer you say you are planning on getting a enclosed. 6X10 will not be big enough once you decide to get the ZTR I would go with a 7X14 or 8X14 or longer. a decent enclosed trailer is gunna really about blow your budget :(
  3. Mid Rivers

    Mid Rivers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 209

    If you have room for a 14' trailer start there
  4. Boycea

    Boycea LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 451

    Scag might be a good choice for a mower. I saw at my local dealership that their running a program, no payments till October or November. This is good for someone just starting out. I also think you should go with a bigger trailer. If you plan on getting a rider or something bigger you might be in a jam for space. Go with the biggest that you can. Also buy right the first time and go with good hand held equipment from a reputable brand such as RedMax, and not something from Home Depot.
  5. Lawn Works 1

    Lawn Works 1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    In my opnion it would be a lot cheaper for you to just buy a regular trailer and just make sure that you can lock everything down such as your blower, trimmer, and gas cans. Then just take the keys out of your mowers and lock the back gates. That should be just as theft proof for the budget you have. I am just starting out and am in the same predicament as you are with about the same budget. Private message me if you would like to exchange ideas on just starting out.
  6. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    Chris .... Welcome ... if I could give you ONE point of honest advice it would be to buy a Hydro NOT a Belt drive mower ... if it's a Scag so be it ..... BUT look at anything other than a Pistol Grip ..... if this is your thought already than great .... check a Snapper which has an adjustable deck which is easy to move .... I like your #3 point show you have a look to the future ;->

    Good Luck in 2003
  7. matitude

    matitude LawnSite Member
    Messages: 49

    Chris, welcome I will answer each question in order
    1. 1/2 acre is 21780 sq/ft
    2. can you explain where you got 64 an hour. That seems high compared to what other lco's are getting in your area according to some past posts.
    3. get as big a trailer as possible and go with a quality brand wells cargo etc.
    4. have literature handy that explains the proper mowing height for specific varieties of grass and let the client read for themselves.
    5. to do a 10000 sq/ft lot 1 man expect to spend approx. 25-30 min cut, line trim, edge and clean up.

    hope this helps and good luck.
  8. sheppard

    sheppard LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 542

    Since I'm from Tallahassee, I'll put my 2 cents in. Our markets are similar.

    I started over 2 years ago with a 6x10 and a Snapper 36"wb (belt drive). Within 8 months I got a 52" Wright Stander so I had to dump the 6x10 and got a larger trailer- no problem here. Those trailers go like hotcakes. Traded up to a 6.5x12 for $50.00.

    A 36" is great to start with. But please get an undjustable deck. Fixed decks are a pain when, like our market, you have both St. Augustine and Centipede.

    I price my jobs by eye-balling how long it will take- if it's anything lower than 85% mowing I'll compute it at $45.00 an hour. Alot of hedges? $60.00 and hour. If it is straight mowing with no trimming and little edging then I might go to $35.00 an hour. (I'm solo- advise you to stay that way through the first year at least.)

    By all means I highly recommend at least 50% account makeup of commercial. Residentials in Tallahassee tend to be fickle- and NO SENIOR CITIZENS!. They will wear you out! Most have not been in the business market for some time and do not know the going rate for anything!

    Without knowing how much edging or trimming you do I'd say our yards are pretty similar. It takes me less than 30 minutes to do mine. I charged a tenant $30.00 a cut when we rented this house out to someone.

    Your stated reasons for going into this business mirror mine exactly. I was 45 y/o when I started and had been a burned out corp. salesman selling software to other corp.s for 10 years. Got so fat and stressed I knew I would not see 50.

    Last bit of advice- foster a good relationship with a dealership. Check out the reputation, if you have not done it already, of the dealerships in the area.

    Find a good 2 stroke mechanic that will treat you well and who is eager to develope loyaly- with 2 stroke equipment you will need his help.


  9. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,071

    1) Yes
    2) Man I wish. Solo with the basic same equipment you are acquiring I try to keep it 35 to 45 an hour range
    3) Might want a little bigger. If you are willing to travel 4 hours there is a manufacturer in the panhandle that makes a nice trailer that you can buy right at the factory.
    4) Educate them. If you can not, make them happy and cash their check. Raise it a little each cut till you reach a happy medium
    5) Depends how efficient you are. You will get to know your yards and get faster as the season goes on

    You are in the same boat I was in last year time frame wise. If you do not get started till My you will find that many of your potential customers have already chosen a service. Might want to get an earlier start if at all possible.

    First year was kinda slim. Kept my purchases below 5000. Glad I did as with out a few extra bucks in the bank and a retirement check we would be eating baloney sandwiches and wishing we could of saved enough money for the mustard.

    Good Luck
  10. germann

    germann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 268

    I would get a double axle 6 by 12 or bigger trailer. A side ramp would be nice. You will definately want the space in future years.

    $64 per man hour sounds kind of high. You would be suprised how many people you contact, especially if you know them or they are unsatisfied, will tell you what they currently pay. We usually match the price if reasonable. In Kentucky, our goal is $30-$35 per man hour for grass mowing. I would definately never go below about $30 in Florida. This may seem low, but work is work.(Our overhead mowing is usually less than 25%)

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